The underrated Dax Shepard (“Parenthood” and “Punk’d”) wrote, co-directed and stars in “Hit and Run,” a low-budget indie comedy filled with dirty jokes, exciting car chases and co-starring his real-life fiancée, Kristen Bell (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and Showtime’s “House of Lies”).
Shepard plays Charles Bronson. That’s right, his character’s name is Charles Bronson, the name he chose for himself when he entered the witness protection program. Charlie’s been happily dating Annie, played by Bell, for about a year. She’s aware of his situation but thinks he needs protecting because he witnessed a crime.
Enter Michael Rosenbaum’s Gil, Annie’s extremely jealous ex-boyfriend, hell-bent on proving Charlie is no good. Gil discovers Charlie actually was the getaway driver for a team of bank robbers, and decides to rat him out to the head of the crew, Alex, a crunchy-granola-loving sociopath who, as played by Bradley Cooper, has a knack for scoring big laughs.
Annie scores a new job in Los Angeles and Charlie decides to drive her there, despite the fact his witness protection deal stipulates he can’t, given that it was the scene of his previous crime. Before it’s all over, Charlie and Annie are being chased both by Alex and his crew, and by Randy, the federal marshal in charge of Charlie’s case. Tom Arnold plays Randy as a bit of a moron, a role, it seems, Arnold excels at playing.
The beauty of “Hit and Run” is that it was made for very little money (relatively speaking) outside the studio system, which gave this incredibly funny and gifted team the flexibility to do, well, whatever they wanted. More impressive still is the level of commitment from Shepard, Bell, Cooper, Arnold and company to even the cheapest of jokes. They know how to sell it.
Huge bonus, as well, if you love cars. Shepard, a car aficionado in real life, has made “Hit and Run” a bit of a tribute to muscle cars and great car chases. He’s also made an R-rated comedy gem filled with plenty of laughs and hilarious performances.
Four out of five stars.