'Hot Pursuit': What the Critics Are Saying
Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara star in Anne Fletcher's buddy-cop comedy, careening through Texas in a variety of commandeered vehicles.
In Hot Pursuit, Reese Witherspoon stars as a straight-arrow cop who tries to protect a newly widowed drug dealer's wife, played by Sofia Vergara, from bad guys on both sides of the law as they careen through Texas in a variety of commandeered vehicles.
The Warner Bros. release, directed by Anne Fletcher, is hoping to generate enough interest among women to open in the high teens.
See what top critics are saying about Hot Pursuit:
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy asks, "Isn't this the sort of nitwit comedy Witherspoon wasn't going to have to make anymore after becoming a producer on the likes of Wild and Gone Girl? A jaw-droppingly klutzy law enforcement farce in the vein of The Heat, albeit deprived of the R-rated raunch and out-there gags, this is a down-home comedy that should have stayed there, as it does no favors to the appealing but ill-served (and poorly photographed) co-stars." For example, "even rudimentary scenes of the women changing or trying to climb haphazardly out of a high bathroom window to escape their pursuers come off just as poorly executed slapstick. Running gags have a little fun with varying insulting newscaster estimates as to Cooper's ever-diminishing height and Daniella's ever-increasing age, but the film is essentially nothing but little and ineffectual bits of recycled shtick with no sense of freshness of invention. And the women never bond in even the most rote or superficial way that's expected in this sort of claptrap."
Plus, "Cooper's exaggerated obsession with rules and regulations makes her seem like a far less engaging variation on Witherspoon's primly determined characters in Election and the Legally Blonde films." With nothing truly at stake in the plot, "everyone just seems to going through the motions here, with no destination in mind. Witherspoon's last so-called comedy, This Means War, was so bad that she stayed away from the genre for a few years; this outing may well occasion another hiatus. Vergara can't help but look spectacular but isn't done any great favors by the bright lighting and never has a moment to really register her full sexiness. The once-common practice of showing out-take blunders alongside the end credits is resurrected here. But they aren't funny either."
The New York Times' A. O. Scott says, "How you respond to the movie may depend on whether [the film's] description raises or lowers your expectations. ... While Hot Pursuit makes much of the vocal, temperamental and physical contrasts between its stars — not since Frodo and Gandalf has a difference in height been so carefully emphasized on screen — it doesn’t give them anything especially fresh or interesting to do together. We are in the midst of a comedy boom, and within it an explosion of feminist and woman-driven humor, but the news has apparently not reached Warner Bros. headquarters. ... [It] is cautious and tentative in its pursuit of laughs, and almost entirely unsure of how to go about being funny. ... While a movie that fails to catch fire is disappointing, there is something even more dispiriting about a movie that doesn’t even bother to try, that tosses its stars a soggy book of matches and expects them to generate a spark."
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Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey warns that it "is so bad even a wild bunch of die-hard misogynists would be offended. It's so bad it will go down as Academy Award-winning Witherspoon's worst movie, at least for the foreseeable future. It's so bad it will keep Modern Family star Vergara locked up tight in her sexy over-the-top Colombian comedian cliché box." If the plot sounds familiar, she says "writers David Feeney and John Quaintance seem to borrow the formula but none of the fun from the Robert De Niro-Charles Grodin riot Midnight Run," and yet "for Witherspoon and Vergara, there are no real arcs. Instead, they must work through scenes that represent one humiliation after another."
Time Out New York's David Ehrlich notes, "It’s hard to fault Hot Pursuit for shamelessly trying to draft off the success of The Heat, since it’s not as if the world is overrun with broad comedies about resourceful women who demolish the men foolish enough to underestimate them. At the same time, this trite road-trip comedy can be so lazy that it squanders the goodwill of a premise that ought to be self-evident." Though "bereft of energy," Vergara "seems to be having enough fun for all of us. As for Witherspoon, it’s easy to forget that the Election star built a career on the strength of her comedic chops, as Hot Pursuit often feels like her first day in the field."
The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman says, "Anyone who denies that its stars have crack chemistry simply don’t know funny," as Witherspoon and Vergara together with an absurd plot "is a can’t-lose formula. I hope they make five more movies together." Though the campy romp's writing isn't necessarily clever — "the writers really went all-in on Vergara saying things in Spanish that sound dirty" — he notes that "it's all in the timing. ... I can’t believe just how dumb Hot Pursuit is. Moreover I can’t believe just how much I laughed."