The stench of mediocrity oozed from the trailer, so it’s no surprise Hot Pursuit is more of the same: occasionally funny jokes, forced and predictable story and moderately exciting acting. Sofia Vergara plays a version of her screen persona we all expect, while the far more talented Reese Witherspoon takes top billing, but plays second fiddle to Vergara’s loony Latina. It’s not a bad movie per se, and the laughs are well earned, but you will not regret waiting for it on Video-On-Demand.
Witherspoon plays Cooper, a San Antonio cop so intense she scares off her dates before dinner is over. Her captain (John Carroll Lynch) asks her to assist a federal marshal (Richard T. Jones) in escorting a wanted criminal (Vincent Laresca) and his wife Daniella (Vergara) to Dallas to testify in the trial of a drug lord (Joaquin Cosio). Soon the marshal and husband are dead, and Cooper and Daniella are framed for their murders, so they go on the run. Slowly. Daniella insists on wearing heels, so “on the walk” is probably more accurate.
Chasing them are crooked cops, thugs and the entire state of Texas. The buddy comedy format is rich with opportunities for laughs, so it’s disappointing that David Feeney and John Quaintance’s script repeatedly resorts to Daniella wanting to break free from Cooper.
Be warned: Vergara has a number of lines in Spanish, and subtitles aren’t always provided, so non-Spanish speakers may get frustrated and feel as if they’re missing jokes (they are). However, enough laughs connect to make the film consistently funny, and Witherspoon and Vergara share an affable chemistry.
Strong women as they are, director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) isn’t beyond exploiting Vergara and Witherspoon’s sexuality. Everything Vergara wears is tight; her ample bosom is on full display throughout. Witherspoon starts the movie in a dowdy cop uniform, but switches to a cute dress and boots. They also have a make out scene that is awkward. It’s intentionally titillating and objectifying, and as such a contrast to the otherwise empowering story of two women who accomplish their goals on their own, without the extensive help of a man.
Admittedly, I would not be discussing what the characters were wearing or their sexuality if men played them. As empowering as the film may be for women, the filmmakers are clearly using sex appeal as a selling point. Thankfully most people aren’t looking for social implications in Hot Pursuit, and nor should they.
HOT PURSUIT (2 1/2) Directed by Anne Fletcher • Starring Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, John Carroll Lynch • Rated PG-13 • 87 min. • At Century Cinemas Del Monte, Maya Cinemas, Northridge Cinemas.