According to a surfeit of poor reviews, however, the film is tripped up by leaden jokes, lazy cliches and a general lack of craft. Ouch.
The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey flat-out pans "Hot Pursuit," writing that it's "so bad even a wild bunch of die-hard misogynists would be offended. 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 cliche box."
Directed by Anne Fletcher, produced by Witherspoon and exec-produced by Vergara, it's "an equal opportunity fiasco," Sharkey continues. "The laughs that are supposed to keep audiences engaged never work because the central characters are hamstrung by rote dialogue and run-of-the-mill situations that are supposed to be funny."
USA Today's Claudia Puig declares "Hot Pursuit" "this week's 'Paul Blart.' Which is to say, it's ill-conceived, not funny, overbearing and not in any way worth watching."
In addition to Vergara and Witherspoon simply not having chemistry, Puig says: "The blame lies mostly with screenwriters David Feeney and John Quaintance. Why hire a pair of guys to write a script that relies so heavily on female-centric jokes? ... Jokes about Witherspoon's height abound. Vergara's accent gets accentuated. It doesn't get any funnier with repetition."
The New York Times' A.O. Scott writes: "While 'Hot Pursuit' makes much of the vocal, temperamental and physical contrasts between its stars ... it doesn't give them anything especially fresh or interesting to do together. We are in the midst of a comedy boom, and within it an explosion of feminist and woman-driven humor, but the news has apparently not reached Warner Bros. headquarters. ... 'Hot Pursuit' is cautious and tentative in its pursuit of laughs, and almost entirely unsure of how to go about being funny."
The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday says the film "joins a long line of derivative, lazily written one-offs looking to cash in on the success of the movies they brazenly rip off, in this case buddy comedies spanning 'Midnight Run' to 'The Heat.' ... When you're phoning it in, at least don't make it a robo-call."
And the Boston Globe's Ty Burr says: "There has been a lot of talk lately about the film industry's glass ceiling, so 'Hot Pursuit' counts as a breakthrough on one front. It's a reminder that women can make comedies as lazy, dumb and unfunny as the chum churned out by Hollywood's boys' club."
In the end, Burr says, "it's not worth getting bothered about. 'Hot Pursuit' is innocuous, inoffensive, insubstantial, occasionally incoherent, and a lot of other 'in's. In other words, perfect product to clog up your Netflix queue and cable on-demand menu, where you can text while you watch and not miss a thing."