There are buddy comedies galore featuring men, even at least two, “Turner and Hootch” and “K9,” featuring a man and his dog, but relatively few starring two women. This weekend Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara give their chemistry a test run in the road buddy movie “Hot Pursuit.”
Witherspoon is a by-the-book cop Rose Cooper assigned to deliver drug lord Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca) and his glamorous wife Daniella (Vergara) to a Dallas, Texas court where they will testify against the Cortez Cartel. All hell breaks loose during the transfer and hired killers kill Felipe. Cooper rescues Daniella, taking her on the run to protect her.
This is a buddy comedy, so you know eventually they will bond, but at the beginning they are opposites in every way. Cooper is an uptight second-generation cop, obsessed with rules and regulations while Daniella is an over-the-top sex bomb, unwilling to leave the house without a suitcase full of stilettoes, even as bad men are shooting at them.
Soon allegations suggesting Cooper is a dirty cop arise in the press and the unlikely pair become, as Daniella says, “the most wanted ladies in America.”
Witherspoon and Vergara are a good match. In true buddy comedy tradition they are Mutt and Jeff, physical and personality opposites. Witherspoon is short and spunky, Vergara is like a cartoon, Jessica Rabbit with an accent and a way with a line.
It’s too bad they aren’t given much to work with. The film starts with a gem of a sequence showing Cooper literally growing up in the back of a police car. It’s charming, funny and sweet, which buys the rest if the movie some goodwill, but it doesn’t last. Both actors squeeze laughs out of underwritten material—Vergara’s delivery is all rolling Rs and cleavage, Witherspoon falls into slapstick—but even though they’re funny, the script isn’t. They milk a few giggles out of the situation, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re starring in a lazily scripted road movie with no real forward motion. There’s not enough energy or laughs to keep things really interesting.
“Hot Pursuit” is a good showcase for its stars but the best it can do is poke fun at the ages and bodies of its leads. Both deserve better and so do we.