Cooper (Reese Witherspoon), an uptight Texas cop who needs a win in the field after a taser mishap, has to escort Mrs. Riva (Sofia Vergara), the widow of a drug boss, to court to testify against major druglord Vicente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio). But after a run-in with two dirty cops, Cooper and Riva suddenly become fugitives on the run.
While I appreciate that this is a comedy led by two women over 40 without romance as the main plot, Hot Pursuit is just bad. Like painfully bad (I laughed once the entire movie). It’s your standard buddy comedy with mismatched partners who cause problems for each other until they learn to work together. But unlike other buddy comedies, Hot Pursuit relies on jokes that are dumb, offensive, or feel like they were written in 2002.
For example: When trying to keep a man from calling the cops, Cooper and Riva pretend they’re lesbians and starting making out to distract him. That might have been shocking ten years ago. Now, it’s just lame.
To make matters worse, both characters are stereotypes. Reese Witherspoon’s Cooper is the masculine, neurotic, all-about-the-job type raised by a dad who was a cop (shown in an opening backstory sequence that was cheesy and unnecessary for development since the “live up to my father” plot point was dropped about halfway through the film).
In a shocking twist for Sofia Vergara, who’s made a name for herself by playing “hot-blooded Latina” in TV and film, Riva is a hot-blooded Latina wife of a drug boss who uses her sexiness to get out of sticky situations. And in case you couldn’t figure these character types out on your own, the movie includes a scene where Cooper and Riva have to change clothes, during which Cooper is wearing white granny-panties while Riva has on black lingerie. Get it? One’s sexy and the other’s weird! ISN’T COMEDY FUN?
The plot itself is half-assed and predictable, too—or at least seems predictable because it’s modeled after every single cop/drug/buddy film that’s been released. Perfect example? The police captain says something along the lines of “We have to keep this quiet because we don’t know who among the police could be working with Cortez.” Gee, I bet it’s not the cops who pick on Cooper at the beginning of the movie, or the police captain who’s the only other person besides Cooper and Jackson (who dies) that knows about Riva’s escort.
And then there’s the subplot about how Cooper can’t get a date. Enter sexy criminal Randy (Robert Kazinsky). What?! The awkward cop falls for the smooth-talking felon with nice abs because opposites attract? COME ON, WRITERS. It’s like you didn’t even try. But, nah, you’re good. Keep adding jokes about a suitcase filled with shoes. I’m sure there aren’t enough shoe jokes in women’s comedy.
Overall, Hot Pursuit is predictable and relies on stereotypes to make all of its jokes. While Witherspoon did step outside of her comfort zone to play the awkward, unattractive (*eyeroll*) role, Vergara continues to prove she can’t do much more than play “hot Latina.” Worse, it’s not even one of those movies that can get away with bad jokes and a boring storyline by being fun. Because it’s just not.
Hot Pursuit: C-
For my radio review of Hot Pursuit on “Pat & JT in the Morning,” visit this link (starts around the 27:44 mark).