Hot Pursuit director Anne Fletcher has been quoted as saying in essence she’s only concerned — presumably, in this case — about making a movie for audience satisfaction, not critics. All well and good but, as I say in my video review above, this movie is one hot mess that even easy-to-please average moviegoers are going to recognize is just. not. funny. Sorry. And this Reese Witherspoon-Sofia Vergara vehicle comes from a director  I have admired for smart comic and commercial chops in the past including the underrated Streisand-Rogen film The Guilt Trip and especially Sandra Bullock’s terrific smash The Proposal.

Deadline Review Badge Pete HammondSo what happened here? It seems like Hot Pursuit is actually trying to be some sort of knock-off of Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s teaming in The Heat from a couple of years ago. Or maybe a female version of the Robert De Niro-Charles Grodin classic Midnight Run. No such luck. This femme “buddy” story of a dopey, country bumpkin Texas cop (Witherspoon) who is assigned to accompany the widow (Vergara) of a drug boss to testify in a case against a major drug lord is so thuddingly flat and laugh-deprived it’s almost painful to watch. One scene in which she and Witherspoon try to escape the bad guys by going on about “female problems” has to be seen to be believed. The many attempts at physical comedy just lay there and even the outtakes during the end credits aren’t funny, though the stars seem to be cracking each other up. At least they had a good time.

Witherspoon has been on a career roll of late with an Oscar-nominated turn in Wild, which she also produced (along with Gone Girl). She was quite fine in a supporting turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s  Inherent Vice too. And Vergara is one of the key reasons to watch Modern Family every week, so it is sad to watch them helplessly trying to drum up laughs in this slapstick concoction (the tone-deaf script comes from David Feeney and John Quaintance, both sitcom writers) that might also set feminism back about 40 years.

Both Witherspoon (who shares producing credit with Bruna Papandrea and Dana Fox) and Vergara (who has an executive producer credit) must share some of the blame since they presumably have some behind-the-scenes clout on this thing. I like both, so hope they have gotten this out of their system.

Warner Bros is releasing the film, from New Line Cinema and MGM, today just in time for Mothers Day. Mothers, you have been warned.