REVIEW: The Bounty Hunter [2010]

“Nope, I’m gonna shoot a cab driver”

Thank you Andy Tennant for your contribution to the beloved, in my mind, 90s television show “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” but what have you done for me lately? Please don’t say The Bounty Hunter because that was 110 minutes of pure boredom. Have we really gotten to the point where Hollywood thinks that if you put a crime in the middle of a romantic comedy that men will want to see it? Did You Hear About the Morgans? proved that the idea can actually make a film worse and ‘it’ comedians Steve Carell and Tina Fey have decided to throw their hats in the ring with the soon to be released Date Night. Stop trying to appeal to a broad audience by taking little pieces of every genre and mashing them together—it makes your story incoherent and plodding, it does not spice things up. I might have been able to get behind this film due solely to the fact I actually enjoy Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, so why did you make it so mediocre with your tired idea of putting them on the run and at the precipice of solving a case that’s too dangerous for the police?

The trailers showed me comedy, they showed me Butler being a dick and Aniston being a bitch and the fact they were ex-husband and wife had potential. Give me ninety minutes of these two going at it as he brings her into custody—he being a bounty hunter and she the criminal reporter who skipped bail to follow a story—and I may have some fun. I’m thinking Midnight Run-lite, sure they end up falling for each other at the end, but at least let me have an innocuous good time on the journey. Instead, of course, that journalistic gem involves dirty cops and drugs, a conspiracy making a suicide look like murder, and the potential for multiple kidnapping situations. This ex-couple then must use their love masked with misguided hatred to quarrel about the severity of the case, only to join forces when bullets start flying because marriage isn’t tough enough, love isn’t quite so hard that you can base a film on its complexities alone. No, we must shove our stereotypical lovelorn leads into a clichéd race for survival and justice. Bravo Hollywood on another uniquely original idea.

But then, I guess they have me in on the joke too. How original is it to rail on a film that looked like drivel and ended up being so? The studios know what they are doing and although screening a film like this means reviews will hit the papers and internet, those people winning radio contests and finding free tickets are exactly the audience they are looking for. The ratio between critics who actually see how tragic the picture is and the average American moviegoer who doesn’t mind that they are only laughing every twenty minutes between fistfuls of popcorn is like 1 to 15. So, the bad reviews only pique the interests of people and the word-of-mouth from the droves makes the box office take just high enough to squeak a profit and greenlight yet another redundant exercise in the degradation of our country’s intelligence. I guess I am playing right into their game; perhaps I should have praised it, get a little reverse psychology going.

There are a few good jokes, though. I laughed when Aniston made fun of Butler’s borrowed shirt at a bed and breakfast and the so obvious you have to laugh comment that Jen’s hair shimmers like the sun reflected by the ocean, spoken by one of the bumbling thugs, earned a chuckle too. That’s about it unfortunately, although the audience did seem to enjoy it when Butler tells his captive to get in the car while he accelerates away from her, twice, as well as when he uses his car to bump her bicycle buggy. Yeah, that is some smart comedy, especially capped off by his trying too hard to disguise his Scottish accent with a diabolical cackle. Well, at least they got their big budget paycheck so they can go do their art film to show the talent bottled up inside. Oh, nevermind, both of them just continue to do lame rom/coms these days anyways. Come on Gerard, start kicking some ass again.

And where have I been that Christine Baranski has begun to be cast as a forty-year old’s mother? Thankfully she is the best part of the entire endeavor, but the woman is good enough to get meatier roles, the five minute cameos are beneath her comedic talents if you ask me. Give me more of her and a lot less of Jason Sudeikis—the annoyingly obnoxious coworker of Aniston’s that follows her like a lapdog and gets caught up in the mystery for no reason other than letting us see physical abuse on someone since the leads are way too pretty to partake. And as far as villains go, you don’t do much better than Peter Greene, so why don’t we give him no screen time at all and let him speak even less. This is Pulp Fiction’s Zed, the guy does creepy evil with the best of them. I just hope his new film Earthling ends up as great as it appears; that will help wash away the bad taste Bounty Hunter has left. At least Siobhan Fallon knows the score and does her best with limited exposure. Playing every second she has to the nth degree of hammy, Fallon was definitely a bright star in an otherwise bleak universe.

The Bounty Hunter 3/10 | ★

photography:
[1 & 2] Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston star in Columbia Pictures’ action comedy THE BOUNTY HUNTER. Photo By: Barry Wetcher SMPSP

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