Real-life couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are as cute as can be on and off camera, but there is nothing in this movie that comes close to the adorableness of their viral sloth video. Bell produced and Shepard wrote, directed, and co-edited this action-comedy-romance about a guy in the witness protection program using the name Charles Bronson (not named after the actor but after the prisoner who named himself after the actor) and his girlfriend, Annie, who has a PhD in non-violent conflict resolution. He told her he was in the program because he witnessed a crime. He didn’t tell her he witnessed it from the driver’s seat in the getaway car. Meanwhile, she has to get to an interview for her dream job, which is a bit tricky when they are being chased by her ex-boyfriend who wants her back and his ex-gang who want him in a lot of pain.
Shepard and Bell said they based the dynamic between their characters on their own relationship and the obvious affection and chemistry is genuinely endearing. But the script is slapdash and haphazard, seemingly thrown together based on whichever of their friends was available for a day of shooting. Kristin Chenoweth has two scenes as Annie’s pill-popping boss (completely wasting the obvious opportunity to cast them as sisters) and Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes show up briefly for two pointless cameos.
They are luckier than Bradley Cooper, who brings all of his goodwill and Actors Studio technique to the role of the dreadlocked, animal-loving bank robber who is looking for payback but can’t make it work, perhaps because his biggest laugh line is supposed to be a funny comment about prison rape. The movie wants us to find naughty words funny just because they are naughty, and that gets tired very fast. There are a couple of mildly funny lines: “I’m not going to teach non-violence at a university and marry Dog the Bounty Hunter.” “It’s not cool to wear those tank tops any more, unless you’re wearing them ironically or something.” It’s nice to see Beau Bridges. The souped up cars are cool and there are some nice stunts. But then we get back to Tom Arnold as a hapless federal marshal who has a premature firing problem and an orgy that is supposed to be funny because all the people are old and saggy and some dumb commentary about racial and homophobic humor and some dumber commentary about the importance of trust and communication — and hedging currencies. Don’t hit, just run.
Parents should know that this movie has constant provocative and outrageous humor including sexual references and racial and homophobic humor, frontal male and female nudity, some graphic violence (guns, battery), drug humor
Family discussion: What should Charlie have told Annie? What do you think of the way they talk about their differences?
If you like this, try: “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Grand Theft Auto”