By Zenisha Gonsalves
It’s difficult to say what Hot Pursuit is about, even after you’ve watched the movie, but here are some guesses:
- It’s that movie that Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara decided to do so they could hang out more often.
- It’s that movie whose writers chose to ignore the fact that the rule-worshipping, label maker-loving, daddy’s favourite, neurotic woman has been done to death, when they created Witherspoon’s character of Officer Rose Cooper.
- It’s that movie that passes the Bechdel Test… if several conversations about shoes count.
Hot Pursuit opens with a montage of clips showing Rose Cooper at different ages, sitting in the back seat of her policeman father’s car. Officer Cooper, who has been working in the Evidence department for three years – and who should never have been let out since she’s the worst cop in the history of law enforcement – gets her “big break” when her captain asks her to escort a drug lord’s wife, Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara), to a court in Dallas where the latter must testify against another drug lord.
You suspect that the movie is going to fail the Bechdel Test even before its second female lead character has been introduced – in one of the first scenes of the movie, when the precinct’s captain is briefing Cooper about the assignment, the only thing she chooses to ask is, “Do we know whether Mrs Riva is menopausal, sir?”
The movie is resilient in its attempt to present the many ways in which women are underestimated by men. Conversations between Cooper and the various male cops leave you with a craving for those wonderfully all-women scenes where the women won’t be told that they’re cute and have nothing to worry about because they’re with male cops who know what they’re doing. But wait – the scenes with only Cooper and Riva make you want to gag. Together, they are reduced to the sexy Mexican woman and the sexless cop who make out and violently pull each other’s hair to escape gun-bearing Texan men, because, as Riva explains, “men like that.”
You soon realise that the worst conversations of the movie aren’t between Cooper and the male cops, but between Cooper and Riva, whose only role in the movie is to totter around in stilettoes and say things like “Congratulations, Officer Lesbian,” to Cooper. When Cooper tells Riva she feels she’s letting down her dead father, Riva replies, “That’s why you’re acting like a little man – you’re being someone you’re not.” That a female character can be gruff, pull her pants up above her waist and wear boring black shoes simply because those are her choices, is an idea that isn’t allowed in Hot Pursuit – Cooper must have unresolved daddy issues that make her the way she is. It’s only when she embraces her femininity towards the end of the movie (by wearing black heels, letting her hair loose and getting a boyfriend) that she is allowed to be a cop of some competence.
To forget all about Hot Pursuit after you’ve watched it might be the most appealing course of action, but it would be a shame if we didn’t learn something from it. Some takeaways:
- If you spend less time sitting in the backseat of a police car, and more time playing outside, you might just end up being a better cop.
- If you’re fantastic with numbers and calculations, and only adequate at climbing out of windows, consider a career in accounting instead.
- If an ankle tracker-wearing con tells you that you have a pretty smile, run for your life – don’t give him the keys to the car and invite him on your adventure.
- If the only thing another woman talks to you about is how much you’re like a little boy, consider not risking your life to save hers.
- If the scriptwriters of a movie aren’t capable of finding the fine line between humour and bullying, consider not doing the movie.