The Austin Chronicle

Hot Pursuit

Rated PG-13, 87 min. Directed by Anne Fletcher. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Robert Kazinsky, Joaquin Cosio, Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, John Carroll Lynch, Benny Nieves.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., May 15, 2015

The warmed-over Hot Pursuit has the unappetizing taste of the all-too-familiar – it’s the movie equivalent of leftovers. The odd coupling of straight-arrow Texas cop (Witherspoon) and spitfire Colombian widow (Vergara) on the lam from corrupt lawmen and murderous henchmen samples everything from Thelma & Louise to Pineapple Express to Outrageous Fortune to The Heat, and none of it very well (or with any imaginative flavoring, at least). The film’s reheated attempt at buddy-buddy comedy may have looked good on paper upon casting the two female leads – genetically, Witherspoon and Vergara make for a fine pair of opposites – but the utter lack of chemistry afforded by a lame-o script (by David Feeney and John Quaintance) isolates the actresses from each other. They might as well be in two different movies. At best, Hot Pursuit is a battle of exaggerated accents: twangy vowels versus rolled r’s, with no clear winner.

Embarrassments abound. Choosing the rock-bottom of the film’s excruciatingly unfunny scenes makes for a tough choice. Is it when a chatty Witherspoon frantically cranks up the antics in a roadside general store after experiencing a blizzard of cocaine? Or maybe it’s when the two leads pretend to be lesbian veterinarians and clumsily make out with each other to titillate a good ol’ boy holding them at gunpoint? Or, still then, perhaps it’s the time they wear a dead buck’s carcass and traipse through the underbrush while making deer noises (?) to elude capture at a police checkpoint? The list goes on. And on. And on. Both Witherspoon and Vergara have demonstrated keen comic instincts in other venues (the former in Election and Legally Blonde, the latter in TV’s Modern Family), but those gifts elude them in this movie. And while Witherspoon tries to do something different here (albeit with little success), it may be time for Vergara to hang up those fuck-me pumps for a while. She can only walk in those shoes so many times before the Latin bombshell schtick goes too far south.

Originally titled Don’t Mess With Texas, the unoriginally retitled Hot Pursuit (which sounds like an Eighties’ gay-porn flick) commits the heinous crime of taking place in the Lone Star State but being filmed in the greater New Orleans area. For anyone living in Central Texas, or at least familiar with its geography, the fake Aquarena Springs billboard prominently displayed in the aforementioned snowstorm only serves to further betray this illusion. In fact, nothing in the film remotely resembles any location between San Antonio and Dallas, the beginning and end points of its labored trajectory. For someone in Fresno or Akron, this may not be a big deal, but for those of us in these here parts, it’s a damned distraction.

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