Movie Review: ‘Hot Pursuit’ leaves audiences cold

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Sofía Vergara (left) and Reese Witherspoon (right) star in “Hot Pursuit.”

I didn’t start caring about Reese Witherspoon until the rest of the world stopped. Maybe that belies my true nature as an insufferable contrarian, but watching that viral video of a drunk, entitled Witherspoon hectoring an annoyed police officer with dumb self-righteous observations as, “I am a U.S. citizen and I am allowed to stand on American ground,” attracted me to her in ways that might be considered damaged or sad to those who don’t frequently glare at their own reflection in the bathroom mirror.

In that video, she was her character from “Freeway” if she grew up to be that embittered, cigarette-y aunt who will most assuredly die in between mouthfuls of soggy fried shrimp at some depressing casino buffet. She was likeably foul and funny in a way that was only hinted at in films like “Election,” yet, instead of embracing her dim, white trash inner demons, she tried to make us forget about them. Which is a shame because I don’t want to spend time with that dewy-eyed, sentient backpack she played in “Wild” — the gritty reboot of “Eat, Pray, Love” that no one wanted. I want to spend time with the Witherspoon who would extinguish a cigarette on the cheek of a waitress in a Branson IHOP. But, apparently, we’re never going to see that Witherspoon again because the dewy-eyed sentient backpack has returned in the disposable “Hot Pursuit.”

“Hot Pursuit” is every movie you’ll find in the$5 bin at Walmart. It is every underwhelming DVD that sat unwanted on the shelves at Blockbuster three days before it went out of business. It is every HBO movie you’ve partially sat through only because you fell asleep halfway through an episode of “Game of Thrones.” It’s inessential. Painfully inessential.

In the film, Witherspoon plays an inept, sour scold of a police officer who is tasked with escorting a pair of perpetually shrieking boobs (Sofía Vergara) to Dallas so that the shrieking boobs — who were once married to a high-ranking member of a drug cartel — can enter the witness protection program. But thanks to a pair of mysterious men in luchador masks, Witherspoon and Vergara are forced to disguise themselves as deer, fall out of bathroom windows and ensure that Jim Gaffigan gets so distracted by breasts that he shoots off his own finger. After 87 minutes, the credits roll, bloopers and bleepers unfurl and the theatre doors are unlocked. You are free to leave.

Lazy and generic, “Hot Pursuit” feels like an over-long, unsold sitcom pilot — not too surprising considering the screenwriters were responsible for episodes of “According to Jim” and “Whitney.” Vergara and Witherspoon are reduced to playing grating one-note caricatures forever bickering as they cruelly mock each other’s invisible, nonexistent mustaches. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber’s old haircut is satirized and a majority of the comedy-like humor-jokes feel like they were cribbed from a 1993 Sinbad special.

In “Hot Pursuit” men become ill at the very thought of a woman’s period, while ladies love shoes so much they can’t help but constantly carry around a suitcase full of them at every waking hour even as they’re being pursued by the police! Bazoink! Women be different from men! Am I right, laaaadies? If not, please don’t get your periods on me! Ha, ha! I’m human garbage!

On the minor plus side John Carroll Lynch (“American Horror Story’s” Twisty the Clown) appears as a shifty police captain and the rural, Texas locals are, at the very least, pleasant to look at. Apart from that, there’s really nothing to see here. Unless, of course, you need to watch as Witherspoon desperately attempts to reclaim her long-faded status as America’s sweetheart or need to be reminded that Vergara does indeed have large working breasts. In either case, you could do much better than “Hot Pursuit.”