A version of this review appeared in The Age, September 6, 2012.
Over the years, there have been hundreds of films like Hit and Run, an offbeat but basically unremarkable chase comedy that would surely have gone straight to DVD if not for the involvement of familiar TV personalities such as the amiable Dax Cooper, now starring as the slacker son on Parenthood. Shepard wrote the script for Hit and Run, which he co-directed with David Palmer; he also plays the main character, a former getaway driver living quietly in Northern California under the name “Charlie Bronson”. Charlie's true identity is hidden from almost everyone – including his girlfriend Annie, played by Cooper's real-life fiancée Kristen Bell.
Charlie plans on never returning to the scene of his crimes, but when Annie has a chance at her dream job he reluctantly agrees to drive her to Los Angeles in his beloved customised Lincoln convertible (the subject of some realistic bickering between the couple). Along the way, he finds himself pursued by the cops, by a romantic rival (Michael Rosenbaum) and by a hot-tempered bank robber played by a nearly unrecognisable Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks and aviator sunglasses. As secrets come tumbling out of the closet – a theme echoed elsewhere in the film – Annie has to wonder whether her boyfriend is really the man she thought she knew.
Hit and Run aims to be crass and compassionate by turns – and sometimes both at once, as when Annie reprimands Charlie for his overuse of the word “fag”. But Shepard's inexperience as a writer is obvious throughout: the structure is as wobbly as the tone. Given that Annie is introduced as a specialist in "non-violent conflict resolution", it's a particular letdown that she never gets to put her skills to use. Still, as a study of compromise within a long-term relationship, the film is far more fair-minded than Nicholas Stoller's appalling The Five Year Engagement.