Review – HOT PURSUIT

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Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sophia Vergara, Robert Kazinsky
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Cert: 12A Running Time:87 mins

When two women at the top of their fields unite for a movie that plays to their obvious comedy strengths, led by a female director with a proven track record in the female comedy genre, you have to wonder through an excruciating 87 minutes of film, if they knew they were making one of the most unfunny, dull, offensive, cringe-inducing movies to come out of Hollywood in a very long time.

Bringing one of TV’s most flamboyant stars and one of Hollywood’s top actresses together must have looked good on paper but Sophia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon flounder in a script that denies them the chance to use their strengths. It’s hard to know who comes off worse. The Oscar-winning Witherspoon plays the uptight, by-the-book Officer Cooper as a Southern cocktail of one part Calamity Jane to two parts Miss Congeniality’s Gracie Lou Freebush. So far so kooky, but when matched with Vergara’s fiery Latino, something weird happens and they seem to cancel each other out like they are on completely different wavelengths.

The plot is back-of-a-napkin complicated. Witherspoon’s cop must escort witness Vergara to Dallas to testify against a drug lord and hilarity should ensue. This is a car crash of a film and is not even in the realm of so-bad-its-good sadly. It ambles awkwardly from one flat joke to another, managing to offend pretty much every woman in the audience with its shoulder-sinking, oh my god is this what Hollywood thinks we want for entertainment period joke, told through the painfully gritted teeth of its two stars.

A scene where they pretend to be lesbians to distract a gunman is frankly embarrassing, as if the two actresses either didn’t get along or felt themselves that it was the lamest thing they’d ever heard. Somewhere a phone was no doubt ringing in an agent’s office, demanding a review of their contract.

Vergara tries to make a point in the film that she can be smart as well as sexy and in one scene goads Witherspoon’s character for thinking the ‘brown lady’ won’t have something smart to say. Sadly the film doesn’t give Vergara the space she needs to make the point more solidly.

Director Anne Fletcher’s previous hit The Proposal proved another great showcase for Sandra Bullock and perhaps that’s what Hot Pursuit is lacking – the Bullock factor. Had it brought some of the foul mouthed havoc of The Heat and pulled in McCarthy too it might have been something hilarious, a real two-hander where both stars are completely in sync with each other. We’ll have to wait for The Heat 2 I guess. Sadly Hot Pursuit is a miss on all accounts.

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