Friends have ben­e­fits

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

AX Shep­ard puts his friends, fi­ance Kris­ten Bell and even his own ve­hi­cles to good use in Hit & Run, a fun, in­fec­tious lit­tle car-chase com­edy.

Made on a tiny bud­get, the movie’s stunts and chases are noth­ing much, but the lack of re­sources steers the story away from ac­tion and to­ward the char­ac­ters, who are wry, ir­rev­er­ent and even en­dear­ing.

Screen­writer Shep­ard, the Par­ent­hood co-star who di­rected Hit & Run with David Palmer, tai­lors the roles to suit his pals, in­clud­ing Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth and Par­ent­hood co-star Joy Bryant.

The re­sult is like a stu­dent film made by pros, weirdly idio­syn­cratic but ef­fi­ciently paced. It’s well-scripted and well-acted and if Hit & Run lingers too long on so-so gags and inside jokes Shep­ard and his friends found funny, it com­pen­sates with a free­wheel­ing spirit that pulls view­ers along for the ride.

Shep­ard stars as a guy in wit­ness pro­tec­tion who took the name Char­lie Bron­son – just why is one of the sub­tly amus­ing bits of Hit & Run. A for­mer get­away driver for a gang of bank rob­bers, Char­lie be­trayed his pals for a sort-of noble rea­son, but Shep­ard doesn’t play him as a hood­lum with a halo. Char­lie’s a man who did wrong, is try­ing to make amends but of­fers no ex­cuses for his mis­deeds and is will­ing to pay the price should they come back to haunt him. Of course, they do.

Now liv­ing in ru­ral Cal­i­for­nia with aca­demic An­nie (Bell), Char­lie de­cides to break cover and drive her back to his old stomp­ing grounds in Los Angeles, where she’s got an in­ter­view for her dream job run­ning a cam­pus pro­gram in con­flict res­o­lu­tion.

Through the schem­ing of her old

Beau Bridges, Kris­ten Bell and Dax Shep­ard in a scene from fun road com­edy

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