So shrill, aggravating, and desperately dimwitted that it’s criminal, Hot Pursuit is a road trip movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara that plays like some Grade D, barely-released throwaway you might catch on basic cable in the wee small hours. Witherspoon plays an uptight, unworldly, by-the-books cop liberated from desk duty long enough to schlep across Texas key witness Vergara, a high-strung drug cartel boss’ wife, so that she can squeal to a grand jury. Constantly getting in the way of their goal — and of the audience’s good time — are slews of armed pursuers raining bullets, Witherspoon’s embarrassing San Antonio Little Theater Texas accent, Vergara’s go-to inclination to shriek and wail every few minutes, and the two talented, misused stars’ inability to generate a single laugh, let alone much chemistry.

Vergara sizzles in her bodice-bursting tight outfits and Witherspoon polishes her dorky ice queen chops. They fall down a lot. They insult each other even more. They pretend to be lesbians. Oh, what fun. But the duo gets undercut by the wayward direction of Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) and the clumsy, bumbling script from sitcom vets David Feeney and John Quaintance. The stars are clearly trying way too hard with crap material that isn’t even as good as what Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy were given in The Heat let alone what Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin did with the classic Midnight Run. We’re no fans of capital punishment but if any movie deserved to be put out of its misery, it’s this one. ½