‘Reese Witherspoon is short. Sofia Vergara has an accent. That’s the joke‘ – Dara Higgins on Hot Pursuit
Here’s the joke: Reese Witherspoon is short. Sofia Vergara has an accent. That’s the joke. Don’t worry if you missed it, it’ll get referenced again in a few minutes. It’s important that we do that, because it’s the joke, and we wouldn’t want you, dear viewer to be unaware as to what the joke is.
Is it the only joke in the whole movie, I hear you wail. Well, wouldn’t that be giving it away.
Reese plays overly officious police officer Cooper, a woman who talks in an ersatz dispatch patter. Copy this, copy that and what have you. She’s by the book and hilariously so. Hilariously so. She’s also short. She’s sent with a US Marshall on a detail to accompany the wife (Vergara) of a high level stoolie to the supreme court in Dallas. Said stoolie was the prime book-cooker for the cartel, the head of which is now in custody. Without the testimony of this snitch, the case will collapse. After an ambush in which the Marshall and the stoolie are liquidated, Vergara and Reese have to make a break for it. Cue mismatched-buddy road movie!
Perhaps the buddy-road-movie isn’t the most flaccid of all genres. There’s some great ones in the canon. My favourite would the Randy Quaid flick The Last Detail, which also features one of Jack Nicholson’s less manic performances. Perhaps it’s the Ronnie he’s sporting keeping him in check. Hey! What am I doing reviewing AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT MOVIE during the review for this movie? That’s crazy! Well, had you seen this movie, you wouldn’t think it so crazy.
Witherspoon’s journey is by the book stuff. She’s uptight and intense, and she needs to own her own emotions or something. If you’re worrying about missing the subtext, don’t worry, the two leads go over it repeatedly. Reese Witherspoon is short. Sofia Vergara has an accent. And she’s no longer 25. That’s the joke. We’ll revisit it again, in case you missed it. On the way they make jokes about menstruating and share an awkwardly hilarious lesbian tussle. Because Reese Witherspoon is small, and looks like a man, or something. And Sofia Vergara has an accent. Imagine, if you will, a similar movie, except the two leads are both called Seth and they’re making jokes about their bums and have to share an hilariously awkward gaybo moment for some reason. Yes, I know that movie’s been made, it may even be the only movie that Hollywood’s Comedybot 2000 is programmed to shit out these days, but it’s different here because instead of Seths we have Reese (short) and Sofia (accent) and when they crack jokes about their uteri, well. It’s fucking hilarious. Isn’t it?
About halfway through a man turns up. A reverse Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise. He helps, rather than robs, our heroine. But of course he does, because Reese’s heroic journey wouldn’t be complete without finding a man along the way. That’s just how patronising this film is gonna be! Are you strapped in? Good, cos get this REESE IS SMALL. SOFIA HAS AN ACCENT. AND IS NO LONGER 32. Reese even takes time in the third act to dress up as Michael J. Fox pretending to be Jimmy Cranky. Because she’s small. Did you get the joke? Don’t worry. On the big, big screen, it’s pretty hard to miss. If you manage to make to the end of this movie and you’re still awake, stay tuned for the blooper reel that plays next to the credits. The only laugh you’re likely to get. A blooper reel is a curious beast. Why would you put one at the end of what is ostensibly a comedy movie? You’re really opening yourself up for comparison. Face it, a mis-delivered line is far funnier than a laboured script and ninety minutes of overacting. You know what movie could have done with a credit-roll-blooper-reel? Schindler’s List. That would have been a much better out than those old fuckers dropping stones all over the gaff.
This isn’t the most awful film ever, but what is awful? Is awful a five year old orphan falling in front of a speeding train? Yes, that’s awful. But what if we look further? What if that orphan was just told by the nuns that they were going to see Hot Pursuit as a special treat? Well, then we begin to envy that dead orphan, and the dullness it will never know.