Charlie Bronson (Shepard) and his girlfriend, Annie, (Bell) lie in bed, making the kind of promises only people in love make. A loud car outside alerts them that they have company. The driver is Randy (Tom Arnold). A U.S. Marshal, Randy can best be described as “clutzy.” One more spilled coffee or accidental discharge of his weapon and he’s going to lose his gig guarding people in the Witness Protection Program. What? You didn’t think Charlie Bronson was his real name, did you?
A collection of car chases and occasionally hilarious one-liners, “Hit and Run” is a promising sophomore project for star Shepard, who not only stars and co-directs but also wrote the script. As a former member of a bank robbery gang who turned state’s evidence for love, Shepard is an appealing lead. He gives a solid performance, as does Bell. Cooper, who apparently had his hair done at the same salon as the Simpson’s Sideshow Bob, has fun in a role much smaller than advertised. Think of him as Eddie Murphy in “Best Defense” – a strategic guest star. The always underappreciated Tom Arnold steals most of his scenes. Why he’s never had a bigger career has always amazed me. The man is funny. As are the various cameo performers, including Kristin Chenowith, David Koechner, Justin Bateman, Sean Hayes and Beau Bridges.
Shepard’s script runs the gambit from maudlin to outrageous. Some of the dialogue is pretty forgettable but a few comments hit dead center on the funny bone. The direction is fine though I did get tired of seeing cars doing donuts in parking lots over and over and over again. Kudos to whoever put the soundtrack together. A great assortment of Lou Rawls, Kool and the Gang, the Dazz Band and, if my ears didn’t betray me, a quick snippet of instrumental music from “Rocky.”