Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon is Officer Cooper, an uptight and by-the-book cop trying to protect a federal witness, Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara), the vivacious and outgoing widow of a drug boss. As the two polar opposites race through Texas, they find themselves pursued by everyone from crooked cops to murderous gunmen. But their greatest obstacle to making it out alive may be themselves...
Hot Pursuit feels very much like a leftover script from the 1980’s, intended as a forgettable female buddy picture for the likes of Bette Midler. It wouldn’t surprise me if this were in fact a leftover treatment from that era. Its purpose? To throw a meager concept at the screen for two female actors to play off of and flex whatever little acting muscles they have left. In this case, we are witnessing the downfall for Reese Witherspoon and yet another blow for Sofia Vergara’s career. They’re the unlikely duo in an unlikely script with an unlikely chance of entertainment.
Witherspoon and Vergara play an odd couple on a roadtrip. Rose Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is a by-the-book cop. She’s far too into her job that she actually pulls a gun on her date. Her trigger-happy nature though is not seen offensive or dangerous because, remember, this is a comedy. Perhaps her high-strung nature can be tamed by Daniella (Sofia Vergara), the sexy ditz of a cartel informant that Cooper needs for a case. And perhaps it will clear her name after she tased the mayor’s son. I can only assume this department has a three strike policy when it comes to accidental assault and injury.
Now why would I be trying to be offended at such a lame-brain comedy meant for stupid laughs? Why can’t I just laugh at Witherspoon setting a young man on fire? Why can’t I snicker at Vergara using her period as a diversionary tactic? Why can’t I find some humor in Witherspoon and Vergara pretending to be overly-sexual lesbians to escape some gunmen? The answer is that none of this is actually funny or creative. At times, it’s even woefully offensive in its desperation for comedy.
Think of every lame bit from every buddy comedy picture you’ve seen and I’ll guarantee a handful of them will appear in this picture. A tour bus is hijacked by our protagonists. One of them dresses up as a man. The two of them end up in a toilet stall where their bickering is overheard as sexual activities. This, again, reinforces my belief that this was a dusted-off treatment of old hat and unoriginal ideas.
The whole movie is just an unpleasant and bitter experience. From the excessive amounts of violence to the limited view of female-oriented humor, there just isn’t much of anything to like in this travesty of a duo on a road trip. Witherspoon becomes rather annoying as the cartoonish vision of an absent-minded police officer and is only upstaged in her annoyance by Vergara’s shrill voice which makes you regret having ears. They seemed to be having more fun than actually doing their jobs as the elongated outtakes over the credits imply.
The road trip/crime aspect of the picture is a complete bore. Cartels laundering money, evil gunmen and corrupt cops are just set dressing for Witherspoon and Vergara to act as fools on screen. There’s a few car chases, some shooting of guns and some romance thrown into the mix. But it’s all just so laughably terrible with characters too ridiculous to admire on any level. How is it that Paul Feig can find a way to make a female action picture like Spy feel fresh and creative while director Anne Fletcher can’t grasp a hint of reality in this forced premise?
The only thing hot about Hot Pursuit is how quickly its likability burns away on screen. It’s another test of endurance to see how long can go without hating two idiotic characters thrown at the screen. The zaniness continues to forcefully pile on higher and higher, hoping you’ll forget about how terrible the writing is. But all the pratfalls, car chases and sexual innuendos in the world can’t save it from being a disaster that comes off more as the dumbed-down version of The Heat.