Two funny lead actresses? Check. A somewhat decent plot? Check. Well, sort of. Hot Pursuit had a chance of being an enjoyable buddy/road movie, but those chances are dashed by the abysmal script that Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara have to deal with. Not all the chemistry in the world could have helped a script as unfunny as this.
Hot Pursuit follows a strait-laced cop, Cooper (Witherspoon), someone who has become a joke within her workplace due to her apparent lack of social skills, or is it common sense? She’s given the opportunity to be taken seriously by the other officers in her precinct when she’s required to escort Daniella Riva, a woman who must go into the witness protection program, to the station. Riva’s husband intends to provide evidence against a drug cartel in court but is murdered while Cooper is collecting his wife. The two women flee the scene and attempt to stay one step ahead of the cartel until they can reach safety. See, isn’t that a promising plot? I admit it’s not the greatest by a long shot, but this could have made for a fun movie.
The promise stops here. Within the first few minutes it’s obvious that the jokes aren’t quite landing as they should and the viewing experience is going to be a tough one. The screenwriter seems to have thought that having both of the character being polar opposites of one another was enough to keep people entertained for 90 minutes. Witherspoon’s Cooper is by the books and boring, while Vergara’s Daniella is loud and sassy. They’re so different, how whimsical! Yawn.
Almost none of the jokes land well, and this is no exaggeration. The film is painfully unfunny for most of the mere 87 minute running time. There’s a ridiculous gag involving both of the characters in a deer carcass, posing as the woodland creature as they attempt to avoid drawing attention to themselves passing a police checkpoint. There’s a running joke about Cooper’s height and Riva’s age. It’s repeated to the point of tedium. Any other jokes can be predicted way before the punch line. There are a few little quips exchanged between the actresses that work, though not nearly enough to recommend the film.
Sofia Vergara seems to have mistaken being loud for acting. At first this is slightly amusing as she screams in Witherspoon’s ear after discovering her husband has been murdered. By the end, her performance has become mind numbingly irritating and not a morsel of humour is to be found within the character anymore. Reese Witherspoon also seems unsuited to her character, which is probably more to do with poor writing than Witherspoon’s skill as an actress. She’s played strait-laced characters before, Election is proof she can play this sort of character to perfection. This seems to have been a misstep in the career she had finally gotten back on track with the trifecta of critical hits: Wild, Inherent Vice and Gone Girl. If you want to see a good film Reese Witherspoon was involved in, watch any of the ones just named. Do not watch this. Unless of course you’re a masochist, in which case this is the painful experience you’ve been waiting for.
Verdict: Almost unbelievably unfunny and predictable, Hot Pursuit proves to be a wasted opportunity of having two talented, comedic actresses sharing the screen. But more importantly, it’s a waste of time. Avoid.