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The Vergara-Witherspoon tag team feels lukewarm in 'Hot Pursuit'
Sofia Vergara as Daniella Riva and Reese Witherspoon as Cooper in the comedy "Hot Pursuit." - photo by Josh Terry
Hot Pursuit is just good enough to make you wish it were better. In spite of a few fun moments and a promising cast, director Anne Fletchers comic effort just cant deliver on its potential.

Hoping for a little buddy comedy magic, Hot Pursuit teams up an Oscar-winning actress with one of televisions most colorful personalities. Reese Witherspoon plays Cooper, an uptight, by-the-book cop whose past gaffes have dumped her behind the evidence room desk. Sofa Vergara plays Daniella Riva, a wealthy drug dealers trophy wife who has more brains than she lets on. Its more or less the same role audiences have come to love in Modern Family.

Daniellas husband Felipe (Vincent Laresca) is preparing to testify against his drug lord boss Cortez (Joaqun Cosio). She also needs protection, and per official policy, a female officer must be appointed to transport her into custody. Cooper gets flagged for the job, but when she shows up to collect Daniella, two different pairs of assassins arrive to kill Felipe, and the women hop into a 58 convertible Cadillac for a spontaneous road trip.

Soon after, Cooper discovers that two of the assassins are crooked cops, and when they try to pin Felipes death on her, Hot Pursuit becomes a race to prove Cooper's innocence as well as keep Daniella safe.

Its a setup with promise, especially considering the talents of the films two leads. But Hot Pursuit never quite pushes far enough to reach its comic potential. Oftentimes, the writing and execution fall flat, and you find yourself smiling at something instead of laughing out loud.

Theres never any real doubt as to where the plot is headed, though the film does offer a few twists and turns to at least keep things interesting. In a movie like this, you pretty much know that the odd couple is going to stumble their way to a meaningful connection; its only a question of what steers them to the destination.

In this case, the women get into a variety of on-the-run high jinks and misadventures, including an encounter with Jim Gaffigan that should be a highlight for fans of the stand-up comic.

Cooper's character arc is the most obvious. Shes a cops daughter, and the pressure to live up to his example has wound her up tighter than most of Daniellas outfits. Daniellas appreciation for law and order falls on the opposite end of the spectrum, so both women manage to find some much-needed balance.

You want to like the results, but most of the time, the zany circumstances and physical comedy feel too forced, as when Cooper and Daniella find themselves handcuffed and fighting off the crooked cops while trying to steer a bus full of elderly tourists.

With its PG-13 rating, it would have been nice if Hot Pursuit might have offered some potent comedy without crossing over into the R-rated territory many contemporary comedies have mined. But Hot Pursuit is just vulgar enough to push its target audience outside of a reasonable family-friendly range.

Hot Pursuit is rated PG-13 for vulgarity, profanity and sexual content (played mostly for laughs).