Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them
labor and work honestly with their own hands,
so as to have something to share with the needy.
Dax Shepard’s new film (he co-directed as well as starred in and wrote the script) is aptly distributed by Open Road Films, the movie definitely being in the chase/road genre. He plays Charlie Bronson, robber of L.A. banks and now in the Federal Witness protection Program. Unlike has movie namesake, Charlie was not a gun-toting member of the gang, but the driver of the getaway car. When his pals shot a guard during a hold-up, he turned state’s witness when they were caught in order to escape being charged with murder. He has been living with new girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell) in the small town of Milton where she teaches at a small college. The subject of her doctoral thesis should be intriguing to VP readers—nonviolent conflict resolution.
When she receives an offer of a dream job—establishing a program in conflict resolution at a Los Angeles college, Charlie is less than enthusiastic about moving back to the city where former associates would like to kill him. He has never told Annie why he is in Witness Protection, nor that he knows the whereabouts of a big bag of money he has buried. However, for her sake he agrees to drive her in a car he has kept out of sight, a 1967 Lincoln Continental with a customized 700 hp engine—it will be a while before she learns why he once needed such a powerful engine. To go on the trip Charlie needs to elude Federal Marshall Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold), the most inept marshal ever assigned to watch over a witness. This is a guy who is far more in danger from his own gun than anyone caught in its sights! Indeed, Randy is one of two guys intent on following Charlie and Annie: her ex-boyfriend Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), both jealous and concerned for Annie, sets off after them too. And soon the newly released from jail former partners in crime are also joining in the chase. Needless to say there are plenty of burning rubber and fender-smashing incidents as Charlie and Annie try to make it to L.A.—and for a while, she is afoot, not wanting to ride with Randy any longer when she learns of his criminal past.
As chase films go, this is fairly exciting, and there are plenty of laughs involving Marshall Randy’s lack of law enforcement skills. I wish more had been done with Annie’s profession—when have we had a character eager to teach nonviolent conflict management? There is not only a lot of potential humor in this, but also perhaps some insight into human relations and conflict as well. There are a couple of scenes where a motel room full of old people are exposed totally in the nude (full frontal for the old geezers), so this probably will not be a film that the usual church group will want to see.
1. How does Charlie change during the course of the film? How do we see that his love for Annie has matured, moving from a me centered phase to an other centered one?
2. What does his long time deception teach about its results?
3. How did you feel when the characters accidentally barge in on the naked old people? Played for laughs, but do you think this is demeaning to the elderly, or not?