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Hot Pursuit **1/2

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are an oddly effective comedy duo (and they make out!)

Is it worth $10? Yes

The stench of mediocrity oozed from the trailer for “Hot Pursuit,” so it’s no surprise the 87-minute film is more of the same: The jokes are occasionally funny and occasionally forced, the story is predictable, and the action is at best moderately exciting. 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 good laughs are well earned, but if you skip this in theaters and wait until home video you will not regret it for a second.

Witherspoon plays Cooper, a by-the-books San Antonio cop who’s 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 carrying her luggage and wearing heels, so “on the walk” is probably more accurate than “on the run.” 



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 somewhat disappointing that David Feeney and John Quaintance’s script repeatedly resorts to Daniella wanting to break free from Cooper. We know they have to work together to succeed, so any tension between them is a tiresome waste of time. Also, 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 do connect to make the film consistently funny, and Witherspoon and Vergara share an affable chemistry that allows their strong characters to work well together.

Strong women as they are, director Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”) isn’t beyond exploiting Vergara and Witherspoon’s sexuality. Everything Vergara wears is tight to show off her voluptuous figure, and her ample bosom is on full display throughout. Witherspoon starts the movie in a dowdy cop uniform, but soon switches to a cute dress and boots. They also have a make out scene that is intentionally awkward, each grabs the other’s backside and Witherspoon straddles Vergara as Vergara is driving a bus. 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. Nobody cares what dudes wear in a buddy comedy. The reality is this: For as empowering as the film may be for women, the filmmakers are clearly using sex appeal as a selling point. Why? Because the only thing more important to Warner Bros. than sending a positive message is making money, and sex sells.

Thankfully most people aren’t looking for social implications in “Hot Pursuit,” and nor should they. Anyone paying to see this wants to laugh, and laugh they will. Maybe not as much as they want to, but enough to not feel cheated.

Did you know?
Stay for the credits – funny moments are revealed in a blooper reel! 

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