Aaron Widmar
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Goofy Road Trip Movies: Hit & Run Review

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Hit and Run review main characters outside black Lincoln Continental

Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) likes to show off his manhood: a 1967 Lincoln Continental.
Photo: Open Road Films

Care to take a glamorous, yet ultimately uneventful and disappointing road trip through the empty country roads of California? Then hop aboard the movie that promises action and comedy, yet fails to deliver on both: 2012’s quickly-forgotten Hit & Run.

Related: Get yourself in a car that suits you–and don’t let discontinued models stop you

The Plot

Annie Bean (Kristen Bell), a professor in Milton, California, has been called upon by the University of California for an interview. The University is establishing a conflict resolution program and is interested in her participation, in consideration of her self-created Non-Violent Conflict Resolution doctorate from Stanford University. She is hesitant to travel to Los Angeles for the interview and leave her boyfriend, Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard), who is in Milton under Witness Protection.

With little convincing, Charlie resolves to drop his cover and take Annie to Los Angeles in his beloved Lincoln Continental. His public emergence initiates a chaotic car chase across California, incorporating Annie’s obsessive ex-boyfriend (Michael Rosenbaum), the incompetent supervision of U.S. Marshal Randy (an energetic Tom Arnold), and vengeful Alexander Dmitri (Bradley Cooper), a former partner-in-crime Charlie ratted on to avoid jail.

The Vehicles

Undeniably, the cars in Hit & Run are extensions of each male character’s manhood, a representation of their excessive, or in some cases impotent, machismo. Charlie, whom Shephard wants to portray as the manliest character ever put on screen, proudly drives a jet black 1967 Lincoln Continental. And admittedly, it’s a stunning car.

If you haven’t seen the poster for the film, or any of the home release covers, this Lincoln Continental is the star of the film. It actually takes up more space in the U.S. cover design than the actors’ pictures and the film’s title combined. Even before it’s on-screen, we’re explicitly informed (via a foul-mouthed Kristin Chenoweth) of the vehicle’s irresistible bravado. The engine causes whole houses to rumble. Inconsequential scenes are written just so minor characters can ogle it and reflect on its grandeur. Charlie built the Continental with his dad and snuck it into Witness Protection as a heartfelt keepsake.

If this movie is teaching us anything about script-writing, it’s that the quickest way to make a character tough and masculine while also sensitive and vulnerable is a forced bond between the man and his “baby”—a car.

In addition, the vehicles of the other male characters are a representation of their manhood. Annie’s jealous ex-boyfriend, who tries too hard to be purposefully manly for attention instead of being “naturally” so, drives a flashy but ultimately shallow 2010 Pontiac Solstice. Randy, the inept and homosexual U.S. Marshal, drives a 2002 Dodge Caravan that’s (like the mental state of its owner) falling apart and won’t stay in park.

Alexander, who has a decent amount of money from robbing banks, had been sexually abused in jail. Now, he only wants to lay low and transport his prized pooches, and thus drives a simple red 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Sports Wagon, shared with Charlie’s ex-fiancee.

Likely, this is the reason the women in the film don’t drive their own cars or have any sense of ownership with their cars.

Our Hit & Run Review

Hit and Run Review Main characters sitting in front seat

Too cool for normal carsPhoto: Open Road Films

Plain and simple, Hit & Run is Dax Shepard’s vanity project. Not only written, co-directed, and starring Shepard in the lead role, the film also features his private collection of vehicles in the limelight. This is just a chance to show off his cars and make himself look good. Charlie didn’t have to expose himself by driving his traceable car to Los Angeles; Annie had her own car off-screen she could have driven them in.

Clearly, Shepard cares more about keeping them intact than making an interesting film, so nothing exciting or threatening ever happens to them during the action sequences (unless you find slow-motion donuts in abandoned air strips smugly set to soul music exhilarating). The directors are more interested in making the cars look good than delivering dangerous chases.

As for small portions of the script that don’t involve cars, the conversations are trivial and offensive (homosexuality being a frequent source of humor) and the characters are one-dimensional. Shepard treats his protagonist with as much reverence as his cars; he’s the one who’s made mistakes and kept secrets, yet demands his girlfriend should “get over it,” so eventually Annie’s the one apologizing to him for getting upset. And why is the character who founded non-violent conflict resolution studies advocating teasing in relationships and starting multiple arguments?

Unless the cars in this film appeal to you enough to watch after reading our review, we’d recommend steering clear of Hit & Run.

Related: You don’t have to be a bank robber to find good cars at a great price

  • Aaron WidmarSenior Editor

    Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.