– for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material.
Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 8, 2015
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 11, 2015 (Amazon.com)
In “Hot Pursuit,” an uptight and by-the-book cop (Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas, pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.
(from Warner Bros.)
Every once in a while, an entry into the buddy action film works so well that it takes audiences by storm. One of my favorite buddy series (well, at least some of the series) was Rush Hour, which started in 1998 and spawned two sequels (and an upcoming TV show minus its cinematic leads). For that one, we had Chinese superstar Jackie Chan unlikely paired up with fast-talking American comedian Chris Tucker. They tried this technique a few years later again with Chan teaming him with Owen Wilson for Shanghai Noon, taking the idea to the Old West. The concept worked again. For 2015, the ladies get a new buddy action film as clumsy by-the-book cop Cooper, played by Reese Witherspoon, is tasked to take a witness into witness protection, named Daniella Riva, played by Latina actress Sofia Vergara. In some ways, the match-up feels a lot like Rush Hour, except while Chan was the uptight cop who could barely speak English, they swapped some traits between the two leads here so Sofia ended up being more like Chan and Tucker at the same time (and there are even outtakes during the credits–just like with Rush Hour–which often show Sofia messing up her English lines, and Witherspoon messing up her Spanish).
Hot Pursuit, while not very original and even at times fairly predictable, just has a good-natured feel to it that makes it enjoyable right out of the gate. Witherspoon and Vergara, while an unlikely pair, play off each other surprisingly well (even if it is a little weird to see Witherspoon in a comedy role again, after having successfully made the transition to a serious, dramatic actor). It quickly becomes a rapid-fire series of unfortunate events as the two find themselves on the run, and I couldn’t help finding myself thinking “Oh come on, this isn’t nearly as bad as the reviews made it sound.” However, Hot Pursuit is one of those films that kind of loses steam about halfway through. It’s not that it doesn’t still have its moments, but the material isn’t nearly as strong or the plot develops poorly (or the idea just feels tired after a while). In any case, as things progress and sometimes get more absurd, it loses a little of the fun of the beginning–especially when they don’t quite play up the “buddy” aspect of the film enough to give the movie some added drama or some plot surprises. Whatever the reason, Hot Pursuit does run out of breath some before the credits roll.
But, to be fair, it just isn’t a fresh concept, and so, even during its most well-intentioned of seen-before ideas, you kind of feel like it’s a bit too familiar. But Witherspoon and Vergara are clearly having fun here, and it’s kind of hard not to let some of that rub off on you. Oddly enough, though, the rest of the cast is either unrecognizable or B-list type actors, and it actually gives the film a smaller feel overall. They introduce a love interest for Witherspoon’s Cooper that the pair run into along the way, and he’s about as cookie cutter as they come. There’s even a moment where Cooper accidentally walks in on him naked in a hotel room, and it feels as ridiculous (and as predictable) as that sounds. Also, some of the villains in the film are “surprises” when it comes to the plot, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, nor does it seem necessary for the story. If you can let it slide, given that we’re talking about a buddy action comedy, it’s passable, but it also feels a little too typical for the genre. Basically, you can’t overthink this one too much.
The content is surprisingly not nearly as rough as I expected, but it still has some surprisingly crass or violent moments when you least expect them. For example, Riva teases Cooper about a recent date she had and asks her about some sexual tricks or games she may have played (all of which Cooper didn’t know what she was referring to). In another scene, a man with a rifle accidentally shoots off his own finger and we clearly see the bloody stump and severed finger. It’s played for laughs, but still shocking in the moment (and kind of gross). Also in that scene, Riva was trying to convince the guy that they two were lesbian lovers to make him let them go (which also doesn’t really make any sense), and so she was tried to kiss and grope Cooper who was resisting the whole time. Aside from the aforementioned scene where Cooper walks in on Randy naked in the hotel room (we just see his bare chest and part of his side/upper thigh), Cooper tries to force her way onto a bus to escape people pursuing them and tries to convince the bus driver–who she thinks is driving a band’s bus–that she can do all kinds of sex acts for the band members. We soon find out it’s a seniors sight-seeing tour, and some whistle at her after she’s finally let on board. Lastly, Cooper dresses as a boy to sneak into a party and Riva is disgusted by the way she looks. At one point, they’re in the bathroom with Cooper trying to coach Riva to hide a wire on her person while she’s on the floor looking up at Riva in a stall, and a woman comes into the bathroom immediately thinking Cooper is just a perverted boy who snuck into the ladies’ room. As far as profanity goes, there’s one “Mother effin'”–spoken just that way–a handful of “S” words, and a few uses of blasphemy (as well as quite a few uses of “Oh my G-d!”). The language usage is surprisingly infrequent compared to most movies under the PG-13 banner these days.
While not nearly as much of a lost cause as some reviews let on, Hot Pursuit isn’t quite the comedy it probably set out to be, more appropriately falling into the category of the kind you pick up for a few dollars out of the bargain bin to resort to on a rainy weeknight. Witherspoon and Vergara make it watchable (and the film’s audience is much more geared towards the ladies here) while everything else kind of makes it nearly immediately forgettable. Still, you can probably do far worse in choosing a comedy to watch than Hot Pursuit.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/9/15)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
The Blu-Ray release of Hot Pursuit gives viewers a bonus DVD and a digital Ultraviolet copy along with the high definition transfer. It’s a crisp and colorful film, but I have to admit that the high definition presentation is sometimes a little unflattering for both lead actresses (although Witherspoon is supposed to appear as such in this uptight cop role). Along with the feature film are the following extras:
The Womance (3:05) – Here we see a montage of Sofia and Reese goofing off on set. We also see the director Anne Fletcher having fun as well. The actresses also briefly talk about working together and their chemistry.
Hot Pursuit: Say What? (3:46) – This little featurette focuses on how Sofia would mess up her English lines — and Reese trying to speak Spanish.
Action Like a Lady (2:26) focuses on the action sequences and stunts of Hot Pursuit, showing a montage of many of those film’s moments.
Alternate Ending (1:28) – Don’t get too excited about the “Alternate Ending.” This is just a montage that shows all of the characters Riva and Cooper encountered throughout the film and where they ended up at the end of the film, being interviewed for a TV report, apparently. It was best left on the cutting room floor.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/9/15)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: We see a young Cooper in the back of a police car when a pretty woman gets in and sits next to her. Cooper tells her she’s really pretty and we hear a man’s voice come out of the woman’s mouth, thanking her (it’s overdubbed to insinuate the woman is really a man); A comment is made about raccoon herpes. An officer asks “What does it feel like?” to Cooper, about her desk job, and she replies–thinking he meant the raccoon– “I imagine there’s a burning sensation in his little genital region”; Riva calls Cooper “officer lesbian” because she’s wearing mens shoes; Cooper tries to convince their captors that they need to let them out of the car by using the excuse that Mrs. Riva is experiencing a time where her uterus sheds its lining; Cooper and Riva change their clothes inside a small shop and we briefly see Cooper in really big white underwear (which Riva says “that isn’t underwear, that’s a diaper!”. Meanwhile, we see Riva in a big black corset-style bra that shows a lot of cleavage; The outfits that Riva and Cooper change into show a lot of cleavage; Riva uses her cleavage to distract the clerk as they pay for their clothes; Riva tries to distract a man holding Cooper at gunpoint by telling him that they’re lesbian lovers. She then tries to force Cooper to kiss her while she grabs her butt and pulls her close. Cooper fights her on it the whole time. As Riva repeatedly pulls on Cooper’s ponytail, the man starts to envision it as all being more romantic and sensual; Cooper complains to Riva, “You just got to second base with me. Or maybe it was third. I’ve never been real clear on the bases”; As Cooper mentions that she was on a date recently, Riva asks her suggestively, “Did you play with his chicken and eggs? Did you give him a pirates key?”; After the girls find an unconscious man, Cooper pats him down. Riva then asks “Is it police procedure to touch all his man parts?”; Cooper accidentally walks in on Randy completely naked in a hotel room. Shocked, she shouts “Oh! Penis! Penis!” and he quickly covers himself up with a towel. We briefly see him without a shirt and part of his bare hip and thigh; While trying to convince a bus to let her on (which she thinks is the bus of a band), she says she’s going to do “all kinds of sex stuff” for the men on board. She mentions doing the “chicken egg” and “pirate hunt” (or something like that) and says something about three fingers and the butt; We see Riva showing a lot of cleavage in the dress she’s wearing at a banquet/party. A lot of the dancers and people at the party are also showing cleavage in their dresses; Cooper dresses as a boy to pose undercover for the party. She tries to encourage Riva to hide a wire on her body. So Riva goes into a stall and Cooper crawls on the floor under the stall to coach her on how to “put it in.” A woman then walks in on this and assumes Cooper is a perverted boy in the ladies room; Cooper tells Riva about Randy, “I helped him get off,” referring to his criminal record. Riva suggestively says, “Oh I bet you did” and adds “Somebody’s getting Coopered”. Cooper smiles and says, “Ok, maybe I Coopered him a little;” During the outtakes, we see Sofia mess up her line about the uterus shedding. During the scene where she changes her clothes, she accidentally unzips her dress a little too far and we see the very top of her butt crack and she laughs.
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “Mother effin'” (said just like that), 2 “g*dd*mn,” 4 “S” words, 4 “a” words, 15 “oh my G-d,” 11 “h*ll,” 5 “d*mn,” 3 “Oh G-d,” 1 “b*tch,” 2 “G-d,” 1 incomplete “Son of a –” and 1 incomplete “Mother –” in the outtakes
Alcohol/Drugs: A news report talks about drug trafficking; Cooper shoots a college student with a taser and he spills a flask of alcohol on himself; A tractor trailer plows into the side of their empty car parked in the middle of the road and white powder sprays all over Cooper. She then begins acting high and hyper as it’s clearly cocaine; We see people having drinks at a party; Cooper throws alcohol on a man and then tases him
Blood/Gore: A man accidentally shoots his own finger off with his rifle. We then see him holding up his hand with the bloody stump of a finger missing and he screams. He and Cooper then think his dog ate it, until Riva shows that she is holding it in her hand (and we see the bloody severed finger from a distance); We see a little bit of blood on Cooper’s arm
Violence: When we first see adult Cooper, she’s chasing a guy through the streets. He’s running past people and bumping into things; We see a news report that shows violence and a car wreck and such; We see a flashback of Cooper shooting a college student with a taser. He spills alcohol on himself and it catches on fire on his shirt and she quickly tries to put it out; Mrs. Riva throws a shoe at Cooper; We hear many gunshots coming from downstairs of the Riva house and Cooper goes down to check it out. We then see a police officer in the middle of a shootout with two masked men and a couple members of the drug cartel; Two men then get shot and killed in the process; Cooper and Riva get in a car and race away from the house and get shot at in the process; Cooper fires her gun twice into the air and flips out the window. Two men shoot at them as they escape; A tractor trailer plows into the side of their empty car parked in the middle of the road; A man holds Cooper at gunpoint with a rifle; The man accidentally shoots his own finger off with his rifle. We then see him holding up his hand with the bloody stump of a finger missing and he screams. He and Cooper then think his dog ate it, until Riva shows that she is holding it in her hand (and we see the bloody severed finger from a distance); A man pops up in the back of the pickup truck the girls stole and when he startles them and Cooper slams on the breaks, he hits his head on the window; Cooper talks about cutting off an ankle tracker on Randy’s leg and Riva grabs a big rock and says they can cut off his whole ankle. Cooper then holds a gun on Randy; Riva points a gun at Cooper. The two then fight and wrestle over the gun; The bad guys shoot the hotel room door and break in; Randy tackles a bad guy and then repeatedly punches him in the face off-camera while he’s on the ground; The bus driver falls out of the bus while it’s moving; A bad guy shoots at the bus. There’s a car chase here and there’s more shooting with a car flipping and crashing. The bus then barely stops short of crashing into a raised construction shoveler; Riva punches Cooper in the face; Some guys hold Cooper at gun point; A woman slaps Cooper in the face; A man points a gun at Cooper; Cooper throws alcohol on a man and then shoots him with a taser. He then catches on fire a little and she hits him in the head with a fire extinguisher to knock him out; There’s a small shoot out between Cooper and another bad guy. Both Cooper and Riva then get shot in the arm.