During the screening of “The Bounty Hunter,” a new romantic comedy from Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, I had a feeling I have never experienced before. I found myself wishing be-mulleted reality star Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman would make a cameo appearance and bring some much needed entertainment value to this movie. Not that I’m much of a fan of the A&E bounty hunter show, but his puka shell necklaces and flamboyant hairstyle might have spiced this lame action comedy up.
The premise is simple. Butler is the titular character, a former cop so down on his luck he takes a gig tracking down his ex-wife (and alleged real-life girlfriend) Aniston, for a payday of five thousand dollars. She’s an ambitious newspaper reporter who will let nothing get in the way of getting a story—including a court date. When she skips court to follow a lead a warrant is issued for her arrest. Enter Butler. He finds her easily, but a funny thing happens on the way back to jail—the pair begins to appreciate one another again. Imagine a humdrum sitcom version of “Duplicity” or “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and you get the idea.
“The Bounty Hunter” doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Is it a romantic comedy? Sort of. Is it an action picture? Kinda. Is it a road movie? Hmmmm, maybe. In fact it’s all those things and less. This truly is a case of the whole being lesser than the sum of its parts.
Aniston and Butler play classic screwball comedy characters, gamely indulging in fast paced repartee and some light farce, but it all feels very “been there, done that.” How many more times can the line “You’re crazy!” be answered with “Maybe I am?” before it takes top dishonors as the Movie Cliché of the Year? The script is on autopilot and even the usually charming Aniston and Butler can’t make these characters interesting. It’s scene after scene of endless (and often unfunny) bickering, very tepid action and screwball situations that seem like we’ve seen them before.
There is the odd bright spot. Christine Baranski sparkles as Aniston’s mom, a be-dazzled Atlantic City lounge singer and raises the movie’s temperature from frigid to temperate when she’s on screen and a dinner scene at a honeymoon hotel has some heat to it, but it comes too late in the movie to make much difference.
“The Bounty Hunter” is an almost instantly forgettable film, one that relies on the appeal of Aniston’s short skirts and Butler’s abs more than a decent script or interesting story.
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