Hot Pursuit

Directed by:  Anne Fletcher

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Robert Zakinsky, and Richard T. Jones

Presumably in an effort to offer an alternative to Avengers: Age of Ultron, Warner Brothers released a female buddy comedy this week, Hot Pursuit.  At first glance, the pairing of Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon with television darling Sofia Vergara seems like a grand idea.  Witherspoon, while known for her dramatic turns, has found success with comedies like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama.  Vergara is incredibly funny when she is not overdoing her accent and her “I’m too sexy for my shirt” routine.  However, the Hot Pursuit script does not give these actresses much to work with, and the movie is simply one long, unfunny joke.

Cooper (Witherspoon) was raised by her father, who was a police officer.  Following in her father’s footsteps, she fittingly works in law enforcement in the heart of Texas.  Consequently, Cooper is uptight, and closely follows all rules and regulations.  Unfortunately, this has significantly impacted her personal and professional life.  Her intensity and rigid demeanor intimidate her dates.  At work, she has been relegated to desk duty after tasing the mayor’s son and setting him on fire.  Cooper is floundering professionally when her boss suddenly selects her for a serious assignment.

The DEA has captured the head of a Mexican drug cartel and the feds are attempting to bring charges against him. The drug cartel’s accountant and his wife have agreed to testify in court. The government needs to collect the Rivas, and bring them into the witness protection program.  Cooper is tasked with being the wife's police escort.  Cooper and detective Jackson (Richard T. Jones) go to the Rivas' home to pick them up and drive them to Dallas.  When they arrive, two different sets of shooters show up and attack.  Cooper and Daniella Riva (Vergara) narrowly escape, but detective Jackson and Mr. Riva are killed.  Cooper is blamed for their deaths and suddenly, Riva and Cooper are on the run from crooked crops and cartel henchmen.  Hijinks ensue.

On a positive note, Witherspoon and Vergara commit to their roles, they have chemistry, and the outtakes during the credits show that they seemed to have some fun while making the film.  Witherspoon channels a bit of her determined character from Election, but without the right material, she flounders.  Witherspoon and Vergara's talent is wasted on a predictable, unfunny plot.  The running joke of the film is that Reese Witherspoon is too short and small to be a cop, and she looks like a little boy.  Vergara on the other hand is mocked for her age and routinely described as an “old lady.”  This “bit” persists from the start of the film until the end when Witherspoon dresses as a Justin Bieber clone.  It was mildly amusing at the start of the film, but grew increasingly tiresome as the film dragged on.  It was as if the writers could not come up with anything funny about these two characters beyond exaggerations of their physical characteristics, and even that lacked true comedic value.

Hot Pursuit lacks originality in every aspect of the film.  More specifically, I found the premise to be uninspired.  For instance, it seems quite stereotypical to have Vergara’s character connected to a drug cartel.  There are a few moments in the film when you can glimpse what the actresses could have done with better material.  Ultimately, however, Hot Pursuit is a run of the mill, buddy comedy that never fully realizes its potential. 

Hot Pursuit earns a 0.09% rating.  You’ll need a cocktail to make it through this one.  Instead of watching Hot Pursuit, I would recommend re-watching The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.