Reese Witherspoon got an Oscar nomination for starring in “Wild” last year, but she’s not getting any love for “Hot Pursuit,” her new buddy comedy with “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara.
The PG-13 Warner Bros. release directed by Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”) has a measly 8 percent approval rating from 81 critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes. That means only six of them could recommend it to their readers.
“The joyless and perfunctory ‘Hot Pursuit’ would be a black mark on anyone’s résumé, but it’s an especially disheartening one for Witherspoon at this point in her career,” TheWrap‘s Inkoo Kang wrote in her review. “We know she can do pretty much anything, yet here she is in an 87-minute bleating contest with Sofia Vergara, her looks disparaged by lazy comparisons to a ‘boy’ or a ‘lesbian,’ reciting words that aren’t so much ‘dialogue’ as mere natter to fill up the silence. If you’ve ever wondered what an Adam Sandler film starring Reese Witherspoon would look like, ‘Hot Pursuit’ is it.”
The movie follows a by-the-books police officer (Witherspoon) trying to protect the widow (Vergara) of a drug kingpin as they’re pursued by crooked cops and hitmen through Texas. If you think the premise sounds stale, that’s the least of the concerns from the overwhelming majority of critics, who describe it as “aggressively stupid,” “shockingly dated” and — even worse — “this week’s ‘Paul Blart.'”
Here are some of the most terrible reviews critics had to offer.
Los Angeles Times critic Betsy Sharkey:
“It’s so bad it will go down as Academy Award-winning Witherspoon’s worst movie, at least for the foreseeable future. It’s so bad it will keep ‘Modern Family’ star Vergara locked up tight in her sexy over-the-top Colombian comedian cliché box. Seemingly destined to become a late-night punch line, the movie, which plays the ‘sexy’ and ‘sexless’ female stereotypes at full blast, is so bad you’d think it was directed by the worst sort of male chauvinist director.”
“‘Hot Pursuit’ features one of the worst and most forced performances of Reese Witherspoon‘s career, an irritating performance by Sofia Vergara (whom I love on ‘Modern Family’) and a seemingly endless parade of lazy and arbitrary plot twists and turns. It’s also loud and abrasive and aggressively stupid. Just because the volume is turned up to 11 doesn’t mean the notes are in tune.”
Detroit News critic Tom Long:
“‘Hot Pursuit’ is basically ‘Legally Blonde’ with a badge and a broad. And far fewer laughs. If that sounds a bit indelicate, it’s nowhere near as crass as this movie, which wallows in female stereotypes in a manner that seems shockingly dated. If ‘Bridesmaids’ and other recent female-driven comedies were a step forward, this is three steps back.”
Newark Star-Ledger critic Stephen Witty:
“Can two completely different women share a car without driving each other crazy? No. Nor without driving us to another theater … There’s a crime in this comedy all right. And it’s the comedy — which only ends up stealing nearly an hour-and-a-half of our time.”
Us Weekly critic Mara Reinstein:
“This would be a bit more amusing in, say, 1982. In 2015 — during a summer when Anna Kendrick and Melissa McCarthy are headlining big-budget comedies and Amy Schumer wrote and stars in her own smart film — two ace actresses don’t have to degrade themselves like this. Such a disheartening sight. As in, it physically hurts the heart.”
TimeOut New York critic David Erhlich:
“One of them is short and the other one is Colombian — that’s pretty much all there is to this milquetoast buddy comedy that ought to have premiered directly on seat-back airplane televisions where it’s destined to spend the better part of its existence.”
USA Today critic Claudi Puig:
“‘Hot Pursuit’ is this week’s ‘Paul Blart.’ Which is to say, it’s ill-conceived, not funny, overbearing and not in any way worth watching. Whoever had the bright idea of pairing Sofia Vergara as a sassy sexpot with Reese Witherspoon as a drab, uptight cop seems to have forgotten to check if the pair had chemistry. They don’t. On top of that, they forgot to add any jokes to this buddy comedy.”
Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers:
“A laugh could die of loneliness in this shrill, slapstick buddy farce that takes the form of a Texas road trip. Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, their proven comic gifts gone MIA, huff and puff strenuously to keep this house of clichéd cards from going down. No chance. Forget a critique, what ‘Hot Pursuit’ needs is an autopsy.”
Arizona Republic critic Bill Goodykoontz:
“In a masochistic mood? Then ‘Hot Pursuit’ is just the thing for you. A relentlessly unfunny comedy, it wastes the talents of Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara as egregiously as one could possibly imagine, resorting to lame jokes, cliches and incompetent storytelling to pass the time. That’s a lot of misery for your money.”