Hot Pursuit is an unfunny train wreck

Hot Pursuit is an unfunny train wreck

ODD COUPLE IT AIN'T: The characters of Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon have no development and no rapport with each other. The jokes are sophomoric at best, offensive at their worst.

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Title: Hot Pursuit
Rating: F1
Short review: An unfunny, shrill blemish on the resumes of Witherspoon and Vergara.

Hot Pursuit is the sort of movie that's so unpleasant to watch, one has to wonder how no one noticed in the development stages that what was being brought into being was little more than an unfunny train wreck.

The film's plot follows a details-obsessive, overbearing young policewoman (Reese Witherspoon) as she attempts to escort a sarcastic, babbling hispanic socialite (Sofia Vergara) to give testimony against a South American crime lord. As is to be expected, everything goes wrong, corrupt detectives put Witherspoon on the fugitive list, and irritating attempts at wacky hijinks ensue.

It's meant, of course, to be one of those would-be charming odd couple comedies. Given the likability and talents of Witherspoon and Vergara, it'd seem to be easy enough in theory. Sadly, this film comes nowhere near pulling it off.

A great deal of the film's problem is rooted in the fact that its two major protagonists are simply unlikable. Witherspoon's overbearing policewoman is a nervous ball of energy with no real warmth at all. Vergara's spoiled mob wife, on the other hand, is little more than a tall, busty delivery device for repetitive rapid fire insults to Witherspoon's femininity.

Many such films find the softness they need by adding dimension and insight to the characters as they slowly warm up to each other as the antagonism and alienation goes away, usually via revelations from their personal lives. Hot Pursuit does very little in this way, pitting Witherspoon and Vergara against each other with little to no softening in each other's character position. This results in the film feeling as if it isn't actually going anywhere, because the characterizations are too limited and static. It's a film that feels as if it's a one-note affair with very little dimension.

If that's not bad enough, the film's would-be comedic setpieces do little to alleviate the dire lack of character evolution. In an early sequence where the two are in the back seat of the patrol car of two corrupt cops intending to kill them, a several-minute gag where the duo launch into their necessity of finding a rest room because Vergara's character is starting her period falls flat on its face. The killing blow to the whole attempt comes courtesy of one of the hit-man cops who delivers the groan-inducing line, "Can't you just hold it?"

Later on the duo encounter a gun wielding redneck played by Jim Gaffigan, whom they try to convince not to shoot them by pretending they're a lesbian couple and awkwardly pretending to make out in front of him. He winds up shooting off the tip of one of his fingers. Rolling in the aisles did not ensue.

The whole film feels as if it's a comedy crafted by people who don't particularly understand how this sort of film of film works and are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. None of it does, but it has Witherspoon and Vergara, so that alone will be enough to carry the film right? Well… no. They have to have some quality material to work from in the first place, and there's just nothing here worth their time and effort.