Hit and Run is an updated version of the classic story, criminal tries to turn over a new leaf but can’t escape his past. Although the plot takes a well-traveled path, the comedy breaks new ground as it struggles with mainstream acceptance of homosexuals. Accepting gay people for who they are is passé; we are cool with our gay friends’/family members’ relationships now.
Our hero, Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) is a great guy who happens to be former getaway driver. He is the quintessential supportive, salad making, proposes in-a-sincere-way (not the showy YouTube way) kind of guy. He is also in the Witness Protection Program, so he is one of the good guys now. The hapless Randy (Tom Arnold) is his Witness Protection case officer and friend. Charlie’s fiancée, Annie (Kristen Bell) is a college professor who is more confident about her theories (her specialty is conflict resolution) than she is about herself.
The day Charlie proposes, she is notified that she is being laid off from the local community college. Her boss, Debbie (Kristin Chenoweth), tries to soften the blow with frat humor and informs Annie that her dream job might be available in LA. Unfortunately, LA is the location of Charlie’s criminal past, which he hasn’t been completely honest about. In no time at all, the newly engaged couple, Randy, Annie’s ex (Micheal Rosenbaum), and the person Charlie testified against (Bradley Cooper) are all on the road as Charlie attempts to get her to her interview (in 2012, a life or death situation). All the while, the past that Charlie has tried to keep hidden from Annie is unraveling along with Charlie’s too perfect image.
For its relatively few serious moments and zeitgeisty backdrop, the comedy focuses on the post-racial Obama era. Racial stereotypes are sent up as ridiculous and irrelevant, while inter-racial relationships are presented without comment.
The real anxiety that the film taps into surrounds gay rights. Hit and Run acknowledges gay culture, while presenting gay characters as sometimes insecure, and not always elegant – in other words, human. In fact, gay characters are the proverbial, “straight man” in the film as heterosexual characters struggle to be supportive without being insensitive.
If you believe that eating a chicken sandwich can help preserve the sanctity of marriage, Hit and Run is not for you. For everyone else, a Presidential Election year isn’t just a chance impose your morals on people who don’t share them, it is a chance to really think about where we are now and maybe have a good natured laugh about it too. A big-hearted, and genuinely funny social comedy, Hit and Run is a breath of fresh air.