Rose Cooper is an uptight and by-the-book cop whose name has become synonymous with screw-ups. She's given a chance to redeem herself one day when she is assigned to protect a federal witness, Daniella Riva, the vivacious and outgoing widow of a drug boss. As the two polar opposites race through Texas, they find themselves pursued by everyone from crooked cops to murderous gunmen. However, their greatest obstacle to making this out alive may be themselves as they learn that Cooper has now been considered a fugitive fleeing with Daniella.Written by
"Hot Pursuit" brings together two great actresses each hitting their stride at the same time.
What do you get when you bring together two actresses whose careers developed almost completely opposite of each other? Well, if they're Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, you get "Hot Pursuit" (PG-13, 1:27). Vergara's early acting gigs included several dramatic roles, but she's had her greatest successes in comedies. Witherspoon's career worked out the other way around. Known in recent years primarily for dramatic films, such as her Oscar-nominated role in "Wild" (2014) and her Oscar-winning turn in "Walk the Line" (2005), her early career was dominated by comedies. Before she got all serious on us, Witherspoon starred in the "Legally Blonde" movies (2001 and 2003), "Sweet Home Alabama" (2002) and "Election" (1999) – with two of those movies earning her Golden Globe nominations. Sofia Vergara doesn't have as many films under her bustier as Witherspoon, but she's definitely made her mark on screens big and small. Earlier in her career she found herself in deadly serious fare like "The 24th Day" (2004), "Four Brothers" (2005) and TV's "Dirty Sexy Money" (2007), but she really hit her stride in comedies. Her appearance in "Machete Kills" (2013) was an over-the-top hoot and, of course, she has been honing her craft on TV's "Modern Family" since 2009. Regardless of their previous roles, having two talented and beautiful actresses in the same film is bound to make it hot but is it worth pursuing?
Witherspoon's character, Rose Cooper, literally grew up in her dad's San Antonio police cruiser and she wanted to be just like him. She did become a cop, but her overzealous nature alienated her from other officers and led to one big mistake that landed her evidence room duty in her police precinct. Vergara's character, Daniella Riva, is the wife of a drug cartel lieutenant who has agreed to testify against his boss, drug kingpin Vicente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio). Naturally, this arrangement puts a huge target on the backs of the Rivas. Cooper's police captain (John Carroll Lynch) gives her a chance to redeem her once promising career when he assigns her to help escort Mr. and Mrs. Riva to Dallas, where they are to testify. One thing leads to another and cop Cooper and diva Riva end up on the run from the cartel and crooked cops, as the pair are forced to depend on each other if they're going to get to Dallas safely.
The odd-couple pairing of Cooper and Riva is played for a lot of laughs – and a bit of drama. There are running jokes about Cooper's lack of height and overabundance of neurotic behaviors, as well as Riva's sex appeal and tough, but aloof attitude. The characters' many differences give writers David Feeney and John Quaintance and director Anne Fletcher plenty of options for comedy and they seem to explore them all. The director and her stars give us some great sight gags and physical comedy, the writers give us a lot of funny lines and situations, and the plot throws us a couple curve balls that result in a third act that is equally dramatic and humorous. Witherspoon's performance is reminiscent of Sandra Bullock's characters in her cop comedies, but sweeter and funnier. Vergara is basically playing a close cousin of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, but what works for her in her sitcom, works in this movie. "Hot Pursuit" may well be Witherspoon's best comedy to date and Vergara is nearly as funny in this film as she is on TV. These two actresses may have arrived at this comedy by way of very different roads, but I, for one, am glad they got there. The characterizations of Cooper and Riva are a little uneven and the plot is not terribly original, but the movie entertains. This may not be the hottest film in theaters this spring as it pursues the likes of the newest "Fast and Furious" and "Avengers" movies, but it is worth catching. "B+"
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