Hot Pursuit


Hot Pursuit is a disappointment. It’s not funny. Just minutes into the show, it becomes obvious that the film, which is essentially one extended chase scene, is going nowhere.

Policewoman Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) and drug lord wife Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara) are travel mates in this would-be madcap comedy. Like last year’s Tammy, the set up is okay, the stars are likable, but the movie, ultimately, is a failure.

Cooper is assigned to escort Riva to Dallas where her drug lord husband is set to testify against a former partner. But the pickup is botched when gangs burst in with guns blazing. Cooper and Riva escape and take to the road in a classic Cadillac convertible, the first of several vehicles they’ll use to get to their destination.

Witherspoon, despite being raised in Nashville, speaks with a southern accent that sounds inauthentic. Vergara, brings little beyond her Modern Family TV persona to her role. Neither excels at physical comedy. Hot Pursuit is a mess.

Who gets the blame? Director Anne Fletcher delivered another bad road trip movie The Guilt Trip (with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand) in 2012. The writers David Feeney and John Quaintance are veterans of (mostly failed) TV sitcoms. With the exceptions of comedians Jim Gaffigan and Mike Birbiglia in small roles, the supporting cast has no real charm.

Witherspoon and Vergara have producer and executive producer credits, so they are among the culprits.

I’ll concede there are a handful of chuckles, but if you want big laughs you won’t find them here. (Even the outtakes that are shown during closing credits are not funny.) Do not pursue.

The Guilt Trip

Somebody had the great idea to cast Seth Rogen as the nerdy estranged son of doting Jewish widow mother Barbra Streisand. That person might want to rethink his/her future in the movie biz.

The Guilt Trip is an instantly forgettable film starring two people who have little chemistry. A weak and rarely funny script from a flimsy story idea doesn’t help. Did producers think that when these two appealing stars got together before the camera that magic would just spontaneously happen? Well, it didn’t.

Rogen plays a 30-ish LA chemist who flies back to Jersey to visit his mom before driving back west with stops along the way to pitch the cleaning solution he’s developed. A story his mother tells inspires him to invite her to make the week long trek across America with him.

Things that could’ve been funny are not, such as the choice of a book on CD they listen to in the car. Or Rogen’s uninspiring sales technique. Even the challenge at a Texas steakhouse to consume a monster chunk of meat in one hour produces little in the laughter department. Even the “hilarious” outtakes that run during the closing credits are ho-hum.

Much of the blame for The Guilt Trip’s failure goes to the old pro, Streisand. First, she’s had so much work done that she doesn’t quite look like Barbra Streisand anymore. Second, her character is only moderately wacky. Over-the-top zany might’ve worked better. Dialing back the wackiness does allow for a few moments of sweet motherly sensitivity.

Rogen is a talented actor and writer, but he does better in R-rated movies than in this PG-13 film. (Despite its tamer rating, there is a penis joke. A lame one. The joke, that is.) His name and reputation will sell tickets, but The Guilt Trip will not add to his long-term box office appeal.

This is a movie to watch on an obscure cable channel in four or five years when nothing else is on. There are better films in almost every other theater in the multiplex. This is not a trip you want to take.