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Lukewarm Hot Pursuit Doesn't Feel Worthy of Witherspoon's Talents

Lukewarm <i>Hot Pursuit</i> Doesn't Feel Worthy of Witherspoon's Talents

DVD Release Date: August 11, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: May 8, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material)
Genre: Action / Comedy
Run Time: 87 minutes
Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, Robert Kazinsky, Jim Gaffigan, Richard T. Jones, Benny Nieves

Poor Officer Cooper (Reese Witherspoon, Wild). She tries so hard to do everything "by the book," but the rules in her book don't cover everything. Like dating. Or normal conversation. Or just about every aspect of regular civilian life. After a mishap so impressive it becomes legendary in law enforcement circles, Cooper is consigned to the evidence intake desk—until suddenly she gets "the call." A pair of key witnesses needs to be escorted to Dallas for a major drug trial; a female officer is needed and Cooper is pegged for the job. It should be easy. It's not, of course. Before she can say "drop your weapon," Cooper finds herself on the wrong side of the law and on the run with a drug lord's wife.

Witherspoon, who seems to be giving us her best Holly Hunter imitation, is a picture of clueless dedication as Officer Cooper. Her unblinking devotion to her job has left her blinded to everything that is not covered in a police training manual. It wouldn't even be fair to say Officer Cooper has relationship issues since she can't even manage the most superficial relationships. A sheltered upbringing of sorts (she was apparently raised in the back of a police car, which surely was against department policy) left her completely unequipped to handle regular life.

Ms. Riva (Sofía Vergara, Chef) is, of course, the opposite of the repressed Cooper. An overtly sexy drug kingpin's spouse, Ms. Riva (we don't really get on first-name terms) never met an emotion she didn't express (loudly. And at great length). Vergara sounds less whiny here than she tends to in her role on Modern Family, but she's harder to understand, a feature exploited more than once for comic effect. Dialogue really isn't why she’s on screen anyway, judging from her wardrobe; her bosom is so prominently displayed so much of the time it deserves its own billing in the credits. She does have some mighty impressive shoes as well, which have more to do with the plot than one might expect.

Both women are more caricatures than characters, drawn in broad strokes with exaggerated features. But then, so is everyone else in the movie. If one is inclined to take offense, Hot Pursuit manages to insult police officers, Hispanics, short people, lesbians, Texans, senior citizens, rednecks, and even members of drug cartels, among others. At least they're equal opportunity offenders. And to be fair, several parts of the movie are actually quite funny. The film as a whole would be even funnier if you like your humor laced with sexual innuendos. I don't, particularly, but I will give the writers props for variety and creativity in their escapades. However, a good bit of the time it seems Hot Pursuit is just an excuse to show off Vergara's impressive figure and offer gratuitous girl-on-girl wrestling. Even when it's just an act by the fugitives as they try to allay a dimwitted rancher's suspicions by pretending to be lovers, all the groping and related shenanigans went on too long for my taste.

On the plus side, the pace was fast without feeling frantic, the general craziness kept things interesting, and the story was good for quite a few laughs. There are some clever jabs at the media, whose nonstop reporting on the fugitives' flight sets up several funny moments. There are certainly worse films out there, but there are a lot of better ones, too. Bottom line: save your money and just watch the trailer. All the best bits are in there anyway.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Several people shown drinking; the action wanders through a biker bar and a casino. A few characters are accidentally covered in white powder and get high as a result.
  • Language/Profanity: I don’t believe I heard an actual f-bomb, though there was an “effing,” but pretty much every other standard profanity made an appearance, including g-d.
  • Sex/Nudity: Ms. Vargara’s costumes leave little to the imagination and even Ms. Witherspoon eventually flashes a good bit of cleavage; we also see Sofía in her bra and Reese’s panty-clad backside. A male character is clearly nude (we’re left in no doubt thanks to Cooper’s startled outburst of “Penis. Penis!”) but nothing graphic is shown. Several episodes of gratuitous groping. An explanation of the basics of menstruation is used by women to unsettle a pair of men. There is a lot—a LOT—of talk about the sex act, genitals, and the like.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense: Shots are fired, several people die as a result (with very little blood or gore); car chases and crashes; punches and wrestling; the two main characters are in danger and running for their lives most of the movie.

Publication date: May 8, 2015