I’ve got a conflict between tomorrow night’s all-media screening of Anne Fletcher‘s Hot Pursuit (Warner Bros., 5.8) and an 8 pm performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tomorrow night. The play wins, of course, but that means not seeing the film until late May because (a) I leave Thursday night for Paris, (b) for some reason the film isn’t opening in France until September 9th (“openings of American comedies tend to lag by months [here],” says a Paris-based critic friend) and (c) it won’t open in Prague until May 28th.

Sofia Vergara, Reese Witherspoon in Anne Fletcher’s Hot Pursuit.

Here, in any event, is a portion of one of the first reviews, posted yesterday by Westword‘s Stephanie Zacharek: “The flagrant silliness of Hot Pursuit is a plus, not a liability. Directed by Anne Fletcher, [it’s] a quiet triumph of tone and timing. Nearly every scene is cut at just the right point, often topped off with a fantastic kicker of dialogue. While self-deprecation is integral to humor, self-humiliation is a trickier, more delicate business, particularly when it comes to comic roles for women. Thankfully, Hot Pursuit — with its script by David Feeney and John Quaintance, both of whom have thus far been writing mostly for TV — avoids gags of the ‘Darn! I broke my heel!’ variety.”

Did you catch that “self-humiliation is a tricky, delicate business when it comes to comic roles for women” line? That’s Zacharek’s political correctness filter talking. And that’s not her only observation in this vein. She writes that “the screening audience around me seemed reluctant to laugh at Sofia Vergara‘s mangling of the English language, as if doing so constituted laughing at a foreigner for something she can’t help.” She also notes that “when Vergara casts a disparaging look at [Reese Witherspoon‘s] clumpy black regulation cop shoes and calls her ‘Officer Lesbian,’ the joke isn’t in particularly good taste. But then, humor that worries too much about good taste is doomed to fail. Hot Pursuit goes for the risky laugh and then moves on.”

A critic friend comments: “Jeff, you never want to see Hot Pursuit. It is beyond excruciating, even considering it is utter folly. Did you see Anne Fletcher‘s previous road movie, The Guilt Trip? This is ten times worse. Life is too short.” HE to critic friend: “I actually didn’t have that much of a problem with The Guilt Trip. Not that arresting but passable, I thought.”