The chase is on when getaway driver turned informant Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) busts out of the Witness Protection Program to help his lecturer girlfriend (Kristen Bell) get to Los Angeles. Before you can say "midnight run", the couple find themselves in a frantic, tyre-squealing bid to outrun the law and Charlie's former associates. Shepard writes and co-directs the caper while The Hangover's Bradley Cooper dons dreadlocks and dodgy tracksuit bottoms to play the bad guy.
From the desperate couple racing across California's dusty highways to its dreadlocked white villain and a reunion between the main dude and his estranged father, it's pretty obvious which movie Hit & Run would love to be.
Sadly, it comes across less like True Romance than a truly lame excuse for writer, director and star Dax Shepard (who you may have fortuitously missed in such flotsam as Let's Go To Prison, Employee of the Month and Without A Paddle) to indulge his twin passions for fast cars and questionable comedy.
Dumb, noisy and not half as cool as it thinks it is, it's like being caught in a shouting match between half-cut rednecks at a Nascar meet.
Shepard is Charles Bronson, a former bank robber who has been happily hiding under federal Witness Protection since ratting out his accomplices four years earlier.
You might wonder why anyone hoping to keep a low profile might choose such a distinctive new name. But that would be like asking why the same person would risk blowing his cover simply to drive his sociologist girlfriend Annie (Bell, also heading down the comedy slope after When In Rome and You Again) to a job interview in Los Angeles. And why he would do it in a souped-up Lincoln Continental that sounds like a B-52 bomber on take-off.
Still, ours is not to reason why, ours is but to sit unamusedly by as Charlie and Annie high-tail it across California, pursued by the bungling US marshal assigned to watch over them (the cringeworthy Tom Arnold), Annie's jealous ex (Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum), the ex's gay cop brother, and, inevitably, Charlie's vengeful former partner-in-crime (Cooper in dreads).
As a performer, Shepard is not without charm. But behind the camera, his policy seems to be that if you burn enough rubber, wobble the camera around a bit, and have everyone bellow their lines at top volume, nobody will notice the paucity of wit, heart or plot in your script.
He and co-director David Palmer emphasise their shortcomings by concocting various scenes solely to spice up the trailer (Bell in the shower, a roomful of naked pensioners, a deadly bowling ball) and calling on more successful comedians like Kristen Chenoweth, Jason Bateman, David Koechner, Sean Hayes and Beau Bridges to dig them out of the mire via thankless cameos.
They fail. As does Bell, who does her best to maintain Annie's integrity but is fighting a losing battle when one minute she's haranguing Charlie for using stereotypes and the next she's labelling all men who like muscle cars as rapists.
Given the predicament she ends up in, Annie's doctorate in 'non-violent conflict resolution' isn't worth the paper it's written on either. Of course, that could be one of Shepard's little ironies. Like the word 'hit' in the title.