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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Hot Pursuit movie review: nice rack and ruin

Hot Pursuit red light

Spectacularly misogynist. Every single attempt at humor — all of which fail — comes from abusing and humiliating its central female characters as women.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

With the spectacularly misogynist Hot Pursuit, director Anne Fletcher — whose oeuvre also includes the antiwoman horrors 27 Dresses and The Proposal — finally makes me suspect that she has decided to become Hollywood’s “cool girl,” playing along with all the boys’ crap and roaring at all their sexist jokes so that they’ll like her and let her hang out in their clubhouse. There isn’t a single laugh to be found in this “comedy” about a cop (Reese Witherspoon: Wild) protecting a witness (Sofía Vergara: Wild Card) on her way to testify against a drug lord, but every single attempt at humor comes at their expense as women: Isn’t Witherspoon too cute to be a cop? Isn’t Vergara too sexy to have a brain? Isn’t it hilarious how one stomps her adorably tiny foot when she is called out as short? Isn’t it uproarious how the other gets furious when people think she’s old? Isn’t the menstrual cycle amusing? Women! They are just so silly in their preoccupation with their appearance, and so weird in their bodily functions. The running motif about lesbians — they’re too frumpy to be feminine until they’re so alluring that they can serve as an irresistible distraction to a man — is particularly horrifying. (I hope every woman who knows screenwriters David Feeney and John Quaintance has shunned them.) Naturally, after an hour and 10 minutes of abusing the two women and pouring humiliation after humiliation upon them, the movie will then ask us to reconsider: Perhaps we should not underestimate women after all? Maybe women might have a glimmer of intelligence and competence lurking under their boobs and all that hair? Nice negging, Hot Pursuit. But you’ve already shown your true colors.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Hot Pursuit for its representation of girls and women.


red light half a star

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Hot Pursuit (2015)
US/Can release: May 08 2015
UK/Ire release: Jul 31 2015

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material
BBFC: rated 12 (implied strong language, moderate sex references, violence, drugs)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • amanohyo

    Hang your heads in shame Feeney, Quaintance, (and Fletcher) – a Disney buddy cop comedy full of animated anthropomorphic animals tackled the issue of gender discrimination more maturely,honestly, and humorously. Zootopia even addressed racial stereotyping and police community relations (a little). I wonder what else these writers have done…

    Hmm, Feeney has written episodes of According to Jim and New Girl, Quaintance wrote (and coproduced? someone’s got money/connections) the entire run of Joey, so this masterpiece is par for their course. There’s clearly an audience for their lazy lines though because they keep getting work. Maybe the Lisa Lampanelli crowd?

    Oh well, it’s depressing that a movie with a female director and two talented female leads ended up treating its characters with such disdain. It’s tempting to place all the blame on the writers, but the people who looked at their script and resumes and decided to throw money at this are equally at fault. Thanks for the review.

  • Tonio Kruger

    It’s official. Reese Witherspoon is now getting the type of wretched scripts that Kristen Bell used to get.

    And Sofía Vergara’s agent has apparently tried to promote her as the new Lupe Velez — not that anyone in modern-day Hollywood is likely to know who Lupe Velez was, but that’s the most charitable explanation I can come up with to explain the way the TV ads kept playing up Vergara’s “adorable” accent. (Actually this season’s opening episode of The Simpsons did a better accent joke concerning Ms. Vergara without even trying. And it wasn’t even one of their better episodes.)

  • Danielm80

    It’s official. Reese Witherspoon is now getting the type of wretched scripts that Kristen Bell used to get.

    Used to? Have you seen the trailer for The Boss? Kristen Bell is one of my favorite actresses—her comic timing is amazing—and watching her career makes me want to burn down Hollywood. There just aren’t many good roles for women. Even actresses who are household names or have won Oscars are appearing in one terrible film after another. I don’t think Jennifer Aniston has ever been in a good movie, and no one has any idea what to do with Melissa McCarthy (see: The Boss). There are a few actresses who are exceptions, but almost all of them are Jennifer Lawrence.

    If you spend decades arguing that no one wants to see movies about women, you end up with…well…Hot Pursuit.

  • Bluejay

    What’s interesting is that Witherspoon’s own production company, Pacific Standard, produced this film (as well as Wild, which MaryAnn loved, and Gone Girl, which she didn’t). So it looks like Witherspoon is responsible for this movie’s existence, and that she just wants to put out as much woman-driven, woman-centered stuff as she can, even if it varies in quality. If we want fair representation but Sturgeon’s Law still applies, then we probably need as many crappy films about women as there are crappy films about men.

  • Bluejay

    the people who looked at [the writers’] script and resumes and decided to throw money at this are equally at fault.

    Just so you know, that means you’re placing the blame on Pacific Standard, the production company helmed by… Reese Witherspoon.

    http://variety.com/2015/scene/vpage/reese-witherspoon-sofia-vergara-hot-pursuit-premiere-1201484765/

  • This probably reflects the fact that if a woman — even a relatively powerful one like Witherspoon — is going to work within the Hollywood system, she is going to be restrained by Hollywood’s biases, which do not have a lot of room for stories about women.

    We are, of course, nowhere near parity when it comes to gender equality in crappy movies… and we do have the additional problem in that a crappy movie about women that isn’t a box office success — and this one wasn’t — will have a much bigger impact on future decisions to make movies about women in a way that a flop about men will not.

  • Bluejay

    I wonder if it’s also possible that Witherspoon genuinely LIKED this movie. Perhaps Hollywood’s biases are also her own.

    She seems to be in a position to put out more progressive films about women; since playing to Hollywood’s biases doesn’t guarantee you won’t flop, you might as well risk flopping with better material. But she has to want to do so.

  • Danielm80

    I like what she had to say here about female filmmakers who take risks:

    http://www.ew.com/article/2016/03/22/reese-witherspoon-female-directors-beyond-beautiful

  • Tonio Kruger

    No, I hadn’t seen the trailer for The Boss when I wrote the last post on this thread. But now that I have…

    The horror, the horror…

    But seriously, folks. I had thought that between her success in House of LIes and Frozen, Ms. Bell’s career was good enough that she could afford to turn down a script as bad as the one for The Boss seems to be. Apparently, it wasn’t.

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