Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, gets his dream job when he is assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife, reporter Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston). He thinks all that's ahead is an easy payday, but when Nicole gives him the slip so she can chase a lead on a murder cover-up, Milo realizes that nothing ever goes simply with him and Nicole. The exes continually one-up each other – until they find themselves on the run for their lives. They thought their promise to love, honor and obey was tough – staying alive is going to be a whole lot tougher. Andy Tennant ("Hitch," "Sweet Home Alabama") directs. (from MovieWeb.com)
In 2005, director Andy Tennant apparently made a big mistake... a good movie. Hitch was a bit of a romantic comedy surprise. While it isn't perfect by any means, it was one of the more fun and truly funny romantic comedies that stuck to the formula, but wasn't without its share of surprises. Since then, Tennant hasn't really been able to make lightning strike twice. And when the promising trailer for The Bounty Hunter was released, touted as from the director of Hitch, it sounded like a sure fire hit. However, it would have been considerably more appropriate to be tagged as "from the director of Fools Gold," which was the 2008 mess of a movie that Tennant also put together. And sadly, The Bounty Hunter seems to be taken from the same playbook.
The biggest problem with The Bounty Hunter, and trust me there are plenty to choose from, may be the tone of the film. While Tennant wants to make it very apparent that this is intended to be a lighthearted comedy - all in good fun - the tone seems to be constantly changing. Jennifer Aniston's Nicole and Gerard Butler's Milo perform as your usual romantic comedy leads. But in this case, they're bitter exes who obviously still have some feelings for each other, however, the two can't help but dish out spiteful remarks and actions towards each other throughout most of the movie. Anyone who has an ex can probably relate to some of the "fun" they have in getting back at each other, and Tennant tries to keep even the meanest of spirited motions as light as possible. However, that very love/hate relationship makes it very hard to feel that there's any kind of real love or attraction between the leads. When Milo switches from immature and vengeful to suddenly caring about his ex-wife's feelings, it doesn't seem natural at all. Any romantic watching the movie wants to root for their relationship, but there isn't much there for Nicole and Milo to build upon. And when things finally do slow down and they just happen to be in the neighborhood of their old honeymoon spot, the "meaningful" conversation they exchange seems all too uncharacteristic of who we've come to believe they are and therefore just feels like it's there because the writers and directors suddenly remembered this revenge story is meant to be romantic too.
On top of that, the comedic tone is off. Jason Sudeikis plays Nicole's coworker Stewart who dresses in pastels and sports a ridiculous mustache. Sudekis plays it like he's in Anchorman or a live action cartoon, and it dumbs down any scene he's in, and ultimately throws off the comedic tone. Of course Stewart is meant to be annoying, but in the end, his entire character adds nothing, with the exception of maybe one decent laugh. And Stewart is really a great example of what is wrong with The Bounty Hunter. Almost every single supporting character seems like we're supposed to believe they're necessary, but each fulfills the romantic story stereotype - and poorly. The best supporting character might actually be Siobhan Fallon who seems to be able to make every piece of her dialog ridiculous and amusing in any project she's in. But, in contrast, Christine Baranski plays Nicole's horny Atlantic City performing mother, Kitty, who can't seem to keep sex off the brain and displays no good reason why any sane person would call her up for advice (and Aniston's Nicole doesn't seem quite that unbalanced). The Bounty Hunter just ends up being not screwy enough to be a screwball comedy and not straight enough to be a more grounded in reality styled comedy. It falls somewhere in between, becoming nothing more than a misshapened, undercooked, haphazardly constructed storyboard of a better idea.
The content is another issue. The comedy relies much too heavily on random bedroom humor most of the time. Because of that, it's mostly unfunny and dumb, making it even tougher to take the picture seriously. The entire approach to the film feels sophomoric, and upon learning it's from the director of Fools Gold, that entirely makes sense now. But between random sexual remarks, Nicole's horny mother, a stop in a "gentleman's club," and a variety of profanity sprinkled throughout the film (including over 30 uses of the "s" word and some blasphemy), The Bounty Hunter just feels like a unnecessarily dirty, sloppy, unromantic and unfunny "romantic comedy."
With all the downsides to The Bounty Hunter, is there anything at all redeemable? The plot revolves around Milo having to bring Nicole in as a bounty hunting job. She actually skips bail because she gets important information about a suicide she's investigating for a newspaper and must meet her contact during the court time she needs to serve. As she learns more about the story, we're basically given a bit of a murder mystery angle. And while even that is handled relatively poorly (OK, it was handled very poorly), the mystery angle keeps the story somewhat interesting. Some of the relationship-building (or "rebuilding") is shown in a few overlong scenes that wear out their welcome, but I was still a bit curious as to why this pair had even gotten together in the first place and what exactly was it that drove them apart. So, in the end, the overall story was entertaining, but it was so poorly executed and delivered that it seemed like such a waste of an attempt at all. (However, on the bright side, it could have been as bad as Year One, but it's not.)
If you liked Hitch or even Tennant's 1998 fairytale Ever After, you're probably going to feel cheated with The Bounty Hunter. Aniston and Butler aren't charming or good enough to save the picture, but they're just "good" enough to make the film watchable. However, the content feels rather ugly at times and ultimately makes what could have been a fun or romantic story a pretty stupid and insipid "romantic comedy." If you want a good newspaper reporter romantic comedy, rent His Girl Friday. It's certainly worth skipping out on The Bounty Hunter.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/20/10)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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