The Bounty Hunter -- Film Review

"The Bounty Hunter"
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"The Bounty Hunter" tries to lasso an action thriller into a marital comedy about battling former spouses to the detriment of both story lines. The mishmash ends up as a thoroughly unfunny adult cartoon where neither the heroes' lives nor their love lives are in any serious jeopardy. With star power in Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, the film will bring in enough of the date crowd for a decent opening north of $20 million but could fade rapidly.

Thrillers and comedies essentially inhabit different worlds, so any marriage between the genres is likely to be a rocky one. Director Andy Tennant only exacerbates these genre tensions by keeping the action at the level of TV skit comedy, whose silliness completely undermines the thriller elements. Put it this way: Would an ex-husband/bounty hunter seeking to bring in his bail-jumping ex-wife really enter her apartment with his gun drawn? Or would the former couple really react to an attempt to murder them in broad daylight by continuing a quarrel?

They do in Tennant's world, which is a reason why at least some audience members might root for the two to never patch up their differences. This couple seems better suited to remaining divorced.

Butler's Milo Boyd was once a New York cop, but his divorce supposedly triggered enough drinking to get him booted off the force. Now he's a bounty hunter, with the mob after him because of gambling debts. Aniston's Nicole Hurley is a New York Daily News reporter who skips a court date while chasing a story about a possible police cover-up. A bench warrant is issued to bring her in.

So far, so contrived. It gets worse. A mutual friend of both ex-spouses seems to be involved in the cover-up, Nicole's besotted news colleague ("Saturday Night Live's" Jason Sudeikis) is stalking her and collection goons are searching for Milo.

Then a bad guy (Peter Greene) tracks them down. Remaining completely superfluous to any of this is Christine Baranski's throwaway role as Nicole's flamboyant mother, an Atlantic City headliner.

The humor is played far too broadly, and the situations in Sara Thorp's script all are lethally predictable. Behavior is dictated not by character but comedy needs. The differences between Milo and Nicole are made convincingly unreconcilable so that the eventual thaw in their relationship has all the credibility of a three-dollar bill. Nor does it help matters that the two leads pretty much punch the clock.

Tech credits are routine.

Opens: Friday, March 19 (Columbia)
Production: Columbia Pictures presents in association with Relativity Media an Original Film production
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Jeff Garlin, Ritchie Coster, Cathy Moriarty, Peter Greene, Joel Marsh Garland, Carol Kane, Christine Baranski
Director: Andy Tennant
Screenwriter: Sara Thorp
Producer: Neal H. Moritz
Executive producers: Wink Mordaunt, Robyn Meisinger, Ryan Kavanaugh, Donald J. Lee Jr., Ori Marmur
Director of photography: Oliver Bokelberg
Production designer: Jane Musky
Music: George Fenton
Costume designer: Sophie de Rakoff
Editor: Troy Takaki
Rated PG-13, 111 minutes
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