It seems Hot Pursuit director Anne Fletcher has a type. In terms of films she likes to pursue anyway. Take one by the books character, one quirky character, throw them together in a scenario of funny situations and hope that sparks fly. But given she’s tried this formula with Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal and The Guilt Trip the results of Hot Pursuit are slightly dependent on your feelings for her previous work.
So Hot Pursuit is essentially Midnight Run but with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara filling the Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin roles. Witherspoon’s rule reciting cop is ordered to escort Vergara’s witness to testify against a drug lord. But when a host of gunmen and dirty cops show up to stop them the pair must go on the run.
You see the brilliance of Midnight Run is the chemistry between De Niro and Grodin, that constant two-worlds-collide deal. The back-and-forth banter and bickering. Hot Pursuit aims for that, which is about the most admirable thing it does.
The results are not nearly as endearing or entertaining though. The script is depressingly by the numbers and the laughs too infrequent to keep you hooked. There are a few nice jokes that never go away, in particular Vergara’s constant digs at Witherspoon’s height but those aside it feels like it is trying too hard for laughs as opposed to letting them flow from the script and character chemistry.
Witherspoon is fine in her uptight role without ever really doing much unexpected. Vergara meanwhile is the film’s highlight, her thick Columbian accent and endless gesticulating drawing all the natural laughs the film offers. Her timing is near perfect, as you would expect if you’ve ever seen her in Modern Family.
The kind of film that might pass away a couple of hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon but this Hot Pursuit feels decidedly lukewarm.