Ray Pride is Newcity film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)
Dax Shepard (NBC-TV’s “Parenthood”) writes, co-directs and stars in a road movie with goofball charm and comic wheel work. For four years his character has laid low in a small town, living with a college teacher played by his real-life, longtime fiancée Kristen Bell. He is in the Witness Protection Program, as the former driver for a small ring of bank robbers. There is so much she does not know about him. In one of several clever sidebars, he spells out the rather meta path for picking his new name of “Charles Bronson.” Later in the script there are more bits on the usages “lame” and “fags,” on wearing a tank top “ironically,” and the cultural nuances of anal rape in prison, wherein a white male generalizes: “We’re such pussies” and “I think of all Asians as women.” Annie (Bell) has a doctorate in nonviolent conflict management from Stanford University. That gets her in line for a gig for the fall semester at a biguniversity in L.A., where Charles’ ex-colleagues are keen on payback. Also on the couple’s tail are her ex-boyfriend, federal marshals and local coppers. “Hit & Run” locks in the GPS of its genre with well drawn and cast characters for an ensemble effort by Shepard pals working at the lower end of SAG scale, he claims. Dunkin’ Donuts logos and geriatric full-frontally displayed swingers appear far more than once with much less interest. But the back-to-school timing works out. With Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges, David Koechner, Joy Bryant, Ryan Hansen. 95m. (Bill Stamets)
“Hit & Run” is now playing.