There’s an email circulating around the interwebs this week between two Sony executives who are talking about female superhero movies and, presumably, suggesting they are a bad bet because of the failures of Catwoman, Elektra, and Supergirl. This is a ridiculous conclusion to draw because suggesting that a female superhero movie wouldn’t sell based on those movies is like suggesting that Jennifer Lawrence movies are a bad bet because Serena failed.
Those female-driven superhero films didn’t fail because they were female-led anymore than Bridesmaids or The Hunger Games succeeded solely because they were female led. They both succeeded because they were good movies, and that’s the the key to winning at the box-office: Make good movies that also appeal to mainstream audiences (this is especially important where the geek crowds are concerned because they are more discerning). The problem isn’t just the lack of female-driven films, it’s the lack of good movies written for women.
Conversely, if Hot Pursuit — which stars Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara — succeeds at the box-office this weekend, you can safely conclude that it has everything to do with the fact that its two leads are female, because that is the only thing going for the movie. Hot Pursuit is a hot bag of trash, a moronic road trip movie written literally by a writer of According to Jim. They’ve dialed Reese Witherspoon’s Election character up to 17 and paired her with Gloria from Modern Family because that is unfortunately the only character Sofia Vergara is capable of playing. If her one-note sitcom character gets on your nerves as one part of a large ensemble on Modern Family — a 22-minute sitcom — imagine her in nearly every scene of a 90-minute movie “comedically” mangling English and trilling at an octave high enough to shatter bullet-proof glass.
Reese Witherspoon stars as Officer Cooper, a severe by-the-books cop charged with chauffeuring Daniella Riva — the wife of a drug dealer — to a Dallas courthouse so that she can testify against the leader of a drug cartel. Two cops in the pocket of the cartel, and two more henchmen are on their trail, attempting to kill Riva before she can testify, and through a series of dimwitted contrivances, they are also mistaken for fugitives, so the cops are after them, too.
And what do these women do while running from assassins and local police officers? Well, they stop at a country-western store and change into cleavage-friendly clothes; they try and distract a country bumpkin by making out with each other; they meet a strapping young Texan with whom Witherspoon’s character develops a crush; and Witherspoon straddles Vergara on a bus seat during a high-speed car chase.
In other words, it’s basically a shitty, 90-minute beer commercial, only instead of listening to an AC/DC song, we are forced to listen to Witherspoon say “commandeer” in a Southern accent 47 times and Vergara bleat like a car horn fucking a chicken with a noose around its neck. In fact, there is literally a joke in the film where Vergara’s voice is confused for a car horn!
But if it fails at the box-office — and it should — it’s not because Hot Pursuit is a female-driven film. It’s because it’s a garbage movie. It’s because the characters are obnoxious, grating, insufferable stereotypes; it’s because it’s written by a man who gave Jim Belushi a job for eight years on network television; it’s because it’s directed by the woman behind 27 Dresses; and it’s because it’s taken two very likable actresses, and removed from their characters everything that’s likable about them.