On the surface of things, Charles Bronson is a nice, lovable guy. At least that's what his girlfriend, Annie, thinks. And she just can't help giggling over his name! Charlie is so unlike his chosen tough-guy moniker. He picked it when he became a part of the witness protection program. But at his core, she knows he's the most sensitive, sweet guy ever. It brings tears to her eyes that he wants to be with her.
It also brings tears to her eyes that he was willing to drive her all the way to L.A. for an important job interview. This could be the perfect opportunity for Annie. And Charlie is so adamant that she not pass up the chance that he's willing to break his witness protection agreement and take her there himself. Even move there with her, if that's the way things play out. Isn't that just the sweetest thing?
Of course, Annie doesn't really know everything about Charlie's past. She doesn't know about the bank robberies. Or that Charlie was once a wheelman for some stone-cold killers. And she knows absolutely zippo about Charlie's former, and not so friendly, associates in L.A. They're a bunch of thugs who are aching to get their hands on her boyfriend once again. She doesn't know anything about any of that. But she's about to.
And it's guaranteed to bring even more tears to her eyes. Different kinds of tears.
Charlie earnestly loves Annie. In fact, he sees so many positive things in her—things that have made a lasting impact on him— that whenever she strays into self-doubt, he prompts her to calm down and think positively. He reminds her just how "absolutely perfect" she is.
When things start heading south, and Charlie's checkered past bubbles to the surface, he's willing to put his life on the line to protect Annie. And on the subject of their possible future, he tells her, "You can wallow in someone's past or move forward."
Randy, the bumbling U.S. Marshal in charge of Charlie's witness protection case, works diligently to protect Charlie and Annie. (Though he's ineffective for the most part.)
A quartet of fully nude (seen from all angles) elderly men and women who appear to be taking a break from a sexual foursome when someone opens their motel room door. The camera pauses long enough to soak in all the details. Then, to drive the lurid point home, someone else later bursts in on the four again, and this time the camera peeks back at those in the doorway from just behind one man's dangling genitals.
There are conversations about having a sexual complex, a man being sexually molested in prison, Annie participating in a "three-way," and the subsequent interactions that result from using a "gay" smartphone app that locates potential casual sex partners. That app connection eventually motivates two police officers to become an unexpected couple.
Annie is seen in a flimsy tank top, in a skimpy bra and panties, in a bath towel and naked in the shower. (We see her bare back and the front of her shoulders.) A shirtless Charlie lies on top of a fully covered Annie in bed. A guy openly ogles Annie's backside.
We witness a series of pedal-to-the-metal roaring-engine car chases where vehicles slam into one another, hit trees, smash through barn doors and spin off into a ditch or an open field. Randy's van starts rolling away without him, motoring toward a couple of playing kids. In a panic he tries to shoot out the vehicle's tires but only ends up blowing out a window and sending stray slugs over the kids' heads and into the house behind them. Once he gets behind the wheel again, he runs off the road. In the crashing, tumbling mayhem, he drops his gun; it discharges several times into the walls of the van. Still later he crashes to a halt again, this time knocking himself out cold and catapulting a bowling ball through his windshield.
Randy shoots a felon in the shoulder. Charlie's ex-partner Alex wraps a leash around a dog abuser's neck, drags him down the street, pummels him about the head with a pistol, forces dog food into the guy's mouth and steals his dog. He and another guy threaten people with a gun and a knife. They manhandle Annie. Alex shoots repeatedly at a scurrying Charlie and Annie.
Charlie has his nose broken with a golf club, spewing blood all over his face and shirt. He's punched in the nose by his father. Later, the older man hits a guy upside the head with a shovel and proceeds to straddle a second man, punching him repeatedly in the face. Charlie knocks a guy out with a fist to the face.
Crude or Profane Language
Over 100 f-words and 30 s-words. Handfuls of the words "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑" and "b‑‑ch" are added. God's and Jesus' names are misused about 10 times (with God's getting mixed up with "d‑‑n" several times). Racial and homosexual slurs pepper the dialogue, as do crude and rude slang terms for male and female body parts.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Annie's teaching supervisor talks to her about the calming influence of Xanax—especially when taken in combination with wine or beer ("It supercharges it"). She later hands Annie a prescription bottle full of the stuff while popping a pill herself. When Annie finally gets to the L.A. school for her interview, that academic is puffing on a bong full of weed.
Charlie and Annie have beer and wine on their dinner table; we see Charlie down some of the beer.
Other Negative Elements
The lengthy discussion about a sexual violation in prison veers into clearly racist territory.
I recently had a conversation about the pros and cons of being a movie reviewer. It involved me generally representing the "pros" of the craft and a friend tending to be in the "con" camp. In fact, in his opinion, most of today's films are like steaming piles of dung through which some unfortunate must dig in hopes of finding one or two kernels of golden value. And although my friend's colorful metaphors were understandable—having myself seen and reviewed quite a few less-than-glorious, um, pieces of art—I hesitated to think of movies in general and my job specifically in those terms.
Then I attended an advance screening of Hit & Run.
The film depicts a young couple, Charlie and Annie, who want a loving relationship they can nurture and grow. They don't have all the right answers, but they're willing—demonstrated through cute verbal exchanges—to work toward something good. That is what qualifies as the single glimmering grain of gold in this raw action/romantic comedy.
The remaining 90 minutes of tire-burning road rage, ear-burning dialogue and eye-burning visuals make up the, well, steaming stuff. Or as the movie's female star Kristen Bell put it in an aintitcool.com interview, "Just because it's us being romantic in some scenes, it's really not a soft movie. There's a lot of action and a lot of weird, perverted s‑‑‑ that happens."
She said it. I just had to dig through it.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Comedy, Action/Adventure, Romance
Kristen Bell as Annie; Dax Shepard as Charlie Bronson; Tom Arnold as Randy; Bradley Cooper as Alex; Michael Rosenbaum as Gil; Kristin Chenoweth as Debbie
David Palmer and Dax Shepard
Open Road Films
August 22, 2012
Bob Hoose Bob Hoose