★ ½

Judging by the outtakes shown during the closing credits of Hot Pursuit, it appears that co-stars Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara had a grand ole time pretending to fight each other during filming. Unfortunately for the viewer, that rather humdrum blooper reel is the highlight of director Anne Fletcher’s irksome and exasperatingly silly movie.

Witherspoon plays Officer Cooper, an earnest, second-generation Texas cop who gets demoted to evidence-room clerk after a disastrous tasing incident involving the mayor’s son turns her name into shorthand for screwing up royally (as in, “Be careful not to Cooper the situation”). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the chief of police assigns her the important task of protecting a drug dealer’s wife as she’s transported to Dallas to testify against a local kingpin. But shortly after arriving at the dealer’s mansion and meeting his gorgeous but querulous wife Daniella Riva (Vergara), all hell breaks loose as two unrelated sets of assassins show up with guns blazing, killing both Cooper’s partner and said drug dealer. As she frantically bumbles about the mansion, Cooper breaks her radio and acts as if she’s never held a gun before. She eventually locates Daniella hiding in the back of a classic Cadillac, and the pair take off on a ridiculous jaunt through Texas; the audience will probably wish they were crossing Rhode Island instead, so the movie would reach its conclusion faster.

The ups and downs of Oscar winner Witherspoon’s career are starting to resemble a stock-market line chart, with bullish critical hits like Mud (2012), Wild (2014), and The Good Lie (2014) plotted alongside bearish flops such as Devil’s Knot (2013), and This Means War (2012); now comes Hot Pursuit, which in NASDAQ terms is her Black Monday. As with any great actress, Witherspoon gives herself completely over to her roles, transforming into the characters and adopting their quirky traits as her own so that they seem perfectly natural instead of an affectation. The problem here is that Officer Cooper is downright annoying: Her hyperactive pacing, unsmiling face, and a rat-tat-tat garrulousness make you want to cheer on Daniella whenever she complains about her protector’s unrelenting motormouth.

Vergara, physically dazzling as she may be, plays her role in the exact same key as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family, complete with the exaggerated Colombian accent, ample cleavage, and expensive stilettos. It would have been a refreshing change to see some real emotion from Vergara instead of her usual histrionics and arm flailing, as evidenced in the scene in which she finds out that her husband is dead. In place of an authentic reaction of disbelief and horror befitting the tragic situation, we get a wide-mouthed bellow that quickly dissipates into whining about wanting to escape from the car and get away from the annoying cop who’s trying to protect her (although it’s tough to blame her for that last part). Both actresses fail to convince the audience that they are doing anything other than checking “slapstick comedy” off their movie-role bucket lists.

Sitting through this film is like bearing witness to two hyperactive preteens fighting nonstop on a long car ride, until a fed–up parent pulls over to mete out some punishment. Only there are no parents to end the craziness in Hot Pursuit, meaning the audience must endure the caterwauling and bickering straight through to the end credits.