The Bounty Hunter

The Bounty Hunter

Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are crusing the byways of New Jersey in a big blue whale.

(Columbia) Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Dorian Missick, Joel Marsh Garland, Christine Baranski, Jeff Garlin, Cathy Moriarty, Richie Coster, Carol Kane, Tracy Thorne, Adam Rose, Siobhan Fallon Hogan. Directed by Andy Tennant

Sometimes life drops a gift into our laps. It could be an inheritance from a previously unknown relative, or a long-forgotten stock gift hitting paydirt. It can even be something far more simpler but much more satisfying.

Nicole Hurly (Aniston) is a reporter whose life is her job. She is investigating the apparent suicide of a police property clerk under suspicious circumstances. When a snitch calls her to set up a meeting with important evidence on the line, she blows off a bail hearing for a traffic crime to go to the meet.

Milo Boyd (Butler) used to be a police detective but he’s made a few career missteps so now he works for his friend Sid (Garlin) as a bounty hunter for bail skip-outs. When he receives the ticket for his ex-wife – you guessed it, Nicole Hurly – over the fourth of July weekend, he is more than jazzed. He is simply ecstatic.

While searching his ex-wife’s apartment, he runs into her love-struck co-worker Stewart (Sudeikis) who believes that he is having a torrid relationship with Nicole (which was in reality a single night of drunken making out). With his intimate knowledge of the client he heads over to Atlantic City where Nicole has also blown off lunch with her cabaret entertainer mom (Baranski) to go to the track and think. He collars her at the track and its clear that she despises him and vice versa.

Milo is also in debt to some bookies for a good deal of dough and Mama Irene (Moriarty) wants it collected. A couple of thugs are on the look-out for Milo, and there are some crooked cops who are after Nicole. Now half the state of New Jersey is looking for both of them and they can’t stand each other – but they’ll have to rely on each other to make it back to New York.

In years gone by this would have been a screwball comedy with Rita Hayworth or Cary Grant in the lead roles, with lots of snappy one-liners and clever dialogue. Today, it’s a formula romantic comedy that shows little imagination in anything other than the casting of the leads with attractive, bankable stars.

Director Andy Tennant has made movies like Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama, both light entertainments that are way better than this is. This is bloodless and by the numbers. Aniston and Butler are both solid actors who have made some good movies but this isn’t one of them. Butler, who was solid in last year’s The Ugly Truth, is in a similar man-slob role but unlike that movie doesn’t have a whole lot of redeeming qualities. The sweetness that was at the core of his character in that movie is completely missing here.

There’s some talent in the supporting roles, from Baranski as Nicole’s oversexed mom to the great Carol Kane as a bed and breakfast owner. For the most part though, it’s wasted with pointless slapstick bits and one-liners that are punchless and none too funny. It’s not a complete waste of time, but it isn’t anything to write home about either.

In fact, this is a completely formulaic movie that holds no surprises whatsoever. You know where the romance is going, and you know who the bad guys are the minute they show up onscreen. It’s a no-brainer for even the non-discerning audience.  

REASONS TO GO: Aniston and Butler are attractive leads.

REASONS TO STAY: A passionless, formulaic script with no surprises whatsoever.

FAMILY VALUES: Some sexual situations and a little bit of violence and foul language but for the most part perfectly harmless.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The production filmed at Monmouth Racetrack in New Jersey; notices were posted throughout the track that those who didn’t want to be filmed should leave the premises.

HOME OR THEATER: No problem waiting for this to hit the home video market.

FINAL RATING: 5/10

TOMORROW: Repo Men

2 thoughts on “The Bounty Hunter

  1. Hi Carlos! I loved reading and agree with your review – although,I still enjoyed the movie. My biggest complaint is it didn’t contain enough of certain elements to appeal to those seaking them. Meaning (and, let me preface this by first pointing out I am aware it was categorized as a romcom), it lacked in romance, lacked in comedy, and, lacked in action, therein lies its dissapointment. There was not enough romance to appeal to romance hungry viewers, and not enough humour to turn on the boyfirends who’s gf’s dragged them to the theater, and the action scenes weren’t great either although I know that’s not what it was going for. Of course, Gerald Buttler makes up for the missing romance by allowing me to gawk at him for an hour and a half:)

    Also, I love romantic comedies. Yes, I am a sucker for romance and bawled my eyes out during that montage at the beggining of the movie UP from childhood friends to marriage and dreams and life and death. I do not expect for there to be twists and turns in a romantic comedy, I do not expect a big surprise at the end, perhaps the appeal lies in the execution of the formula…? Just a thought.

    Whenever a romcom gets a bad review, the reviewer often states how predictable the movie was. Is this necessarily a bad thing? In the case of romcoms – I don’t think so. If I wanted suspence and twists and turns and to watch a movie that kept me guessing till the very end, well, then perhaps I’d opt for Shutter Island.

    • I don’t mind the romance comedy formula when it’s done well (as on “The Proposal” for example) but it’s when they do it ineptly that I have a problem with it. There is absolutely no heat generated by Aniston and Butler; he’s SUCH a slob and she’s SO prissy that you can’t imagine they would want to be in the same room for ten seconds togther, let alone be married. I want to be able to root for the romance to take hold; if I don’t care whether they end up together or not then the filmmakers haven’t done their job.

      Thanks for the insightful commentary though! Look forward to seeing you, Neal, Taylor, Katrina, Callie and your parents in September when Doreen and I are up there!

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