Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are a fantastic team in Hot Pursuit. Director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal, The Guilt Trip) is a fantastically talented comedic director. So, why doesn’t Hot Pursuit hit the highway with laughs, heart and fall-out-of-your-seat hilarity?
Perhaps it is that the script by David Feeney and John Quaintance simply fails them. It is not funny. The one joke that works, about Witherspoon’s ever decreasing height and Vergara’s ever increasing age, you’ve seen over and over in that Hot Pursuit trailer.
Witherspoon is San Antonio police officer Cooper. In a cute opening sequence we learn that she grew up in the back of her legendary father’s police cruiser. She was born to be a cop. Yet, as an adult she makes one small mistake and it has her languishing in the evidence room riding a desk. Opportunity arises when the U.S. Marshal arrives and needs a female officer to serve as the liaison for the wife (Vergara’s Daniella Riva) of a drug cartel member who is going to testify in Dallas against the kingpin.
When they’re ambushed and Riva’s husband is killed and the marshal shot, it’s up to Officer Cooper to get Riva out of the house and on the road to Dallas by herself.
They are mismatched. They are under fire and on a timetable to get to the Big D.
On paper, this should work. It’s an interesting enough story with humor and heartwarming potential lurking around every corner. But, we know immediately when Witherspoon mistakenly leaves their escape vehicle (Riva’s car) where it can be hit by a truck and cocaine goes flying in the air and the duo ingest quite a lot, that this film is going for easy and been-there-done-that laughs rather than anything that is remotely original and envelope-pushing.
Don’t get us started on the predictable back and forth that ensues when the pair (wired, of course) walk away from the crash and head into a honky tonk general store to find new clothes because for some reason they are now considered suspects and the most wanted pair in Texas. Yup, both the cops and the drug lords want them!
Hot Pursuit is a sad waste of potential talent and chemistry between its leads. We hope that Witherspoon and Vergara get to do a buddy comedy or some sort of film again because they truly try their absolute best to make this work. But, we’re reminded of a certain joke about lipstick on a pig and it still being a pig. The pair have chemistry, there is no question, but unfortunately have nothing to work with.
What is nice is that the pair buck trends and don’t spend time ad nauseum talking about guys or needing men in their lives. These are two independent women finding themselves in a perilous situation who must rely on each other to survive -- our Hot Pursuit review can report -- and that, at least, is this film’s saving grace.