Friday, March 19, 2010
“The Bounty Hunter” (opening March 19 throughout San Diego) has already been done before and better. It was called “Midnight Run.” And even that was ripping off other films and could have been better.
“The Bounty Hunter” employs the odd couple formula (force two bickering opposites together) and then tries to mix in romantic comedy and the action buddy flick. The result is something akin to “War of the Roses” mixed with “48 HRS.” The premise for “The Bounty Hunter” has the potential to be funny: an ex-husband who’s a bounty hunter gets to bring his ex-wife in for $5000. The problem, however, is how do you drag that funny idea into a feature length film?
Unfortunately, director Andy Tennant and writer Sarah Thrope have no clue how to extend the premise into a full-fledged film. In fact they're pretty clueless in regards to just about everything. They’re not helped by the fact that there’s no chemistry whatsoever between their A-list stars Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston. We never believe the two attractive celebs as a couple – either as once in love or as bickering exes – and they never develop an onscreen rapport or sexy sense of fun that’s the least bit entertaining. Heck Simon Pegg and Nick Frost had more chemistry and even better sexy banter in “Shaun of the Dead” than these two.
In a bit of unintended irony, the film is produced by “Original Film,” so when that opening credit appears I got the only real laugh in the film since originality is just nowhere to be found in this assembly line Hollywood product. You can predict pretty much everything that happens in the film from just looking at the poster, that’s how fresh and innovative this film is. You know Butler will get to put Aniston in her place a few times but that in order to keep the female audience happy she’ll get her chance to get even on a few occasions. You also know they will go on the run, get hunted by thugs, and at some point get thrown in bed together. And you can be certain that they will find a way to get back together or fall back in love. There is also the requisite shirtless scene but in a sign of the times it’s Butler and not Aniston who has to strip down. (FYI ladies, he looked better in “300.”)
Butler, who began his career with the sweet romantic comedy “Dear Frankie,” should simply be banned from the genre forever for making a string of eye-gougingly bad romances: “P.S. I Love You,” “Nim’s Island,” “The Ugly Truth,” and now “The Bounty Hunter.” As for Aniston, I have never been able to understand her popularity. Sure she’s cute but she’s bland and about emotive as a block of wood (and that’s being generous). I recently watched Aniston’s first feature, “Leprechaun” (in honor of St. Patrick’s Day), and as my friend pointed out, her acting has not improved one iota since then. (Although her nose and maybe a few other things have been enhanced.)
Tennant (who also gave us the horrendous “Fool’s Gold”) and Thorpe have to shoulder blame as well. Tennant’s direction lacks pace and any sense of fun while Thorpe’s script takes every predictable turn you can imagine. Maybe she used a scriptwriting template in which you just insert names and locations into a pre-built formula. They even waste the delightful Christine Baranski as Aniston’s cougar mom. She is the only flicker of a bright spot in this thoroughly drab film.
Considering I wasted nearly two hours of my life seeing this film, I think I will stop here and cut my losses as best I can. “The Bounty Hunter” (rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive comments, language and some violence) is precisely why I am scared to go to contemporary romantic comedies – they suck! Some consider sitting through “Hostel” and “Saw” as torture but for me those films are a delight and asinine romantic comedies are the real grinder. I need a palate cleanser. Now!
Companion viewing: “Midnight Run,” “48HRS,” “Black Mama, White Mama”