Bounty Hunter, The
PG-13
Entertainment: +1 1/2
Acceptability: -3

Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler. Action/adventure. Written by Sarah Thorp. Directed by Andrew Tennant.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Milo Boyd, a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, gets his dream job when he is assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I’ve made the argument that the best films have already been made. Though that assessment is debatable, the opposing side could hardly use recent “romantic comedies” as a defense. That genre seems to be suffering not just from coarseness, but also a standardized sameness. Nothing in The Bounty Hunter, for instance, could be labeled fresh, creative or witty. You’ve read the synopsis above. That skimpy summary precisely states the shallowness of the film’s plotline. She’s a hotshot reporter who defies a court hearing. He’s an ex-cop who gets to collect five grand if he brings in his fugitive ex-wife.

Ms. Aniston is well coiffed and still looks great in the shortest skirt ever worn by a journalist. And Mr. Butler gets a shot at showing his six-pack abdomen left over from 300. Oh, and he has that scruffy stubble worn by all actors who refuse the Gillette blade in order to define their character’s character.

Though both actors are great looking and competent in their craft, they show little on-screen chemistry and even less ability to choose a script. I picture her between takes, fussing with her hair and making sure the skirt is at the appropriate height, while he gets in some stomach crunches. One also gets the impression they both read their agents’ summary, but as yet have actually read the entire script.

Whenever either lead searches for a witty response to an approaching danger or ex-spousal contempt, either the s-word or the profane use of God/Christ comes tumbling out of their mouths, much like a high schooler who constantly skips his third-period English class. The screening audience sat there, like me, dutifully waiting like Pavlov dogs to respond to a comic moment. But the most audible response came at the sight of a waking Mr. Butler, a small swamp of spit having gathered from his mouth to the leather coach. “Eweeoh,” we all gasped. Like the unshaven look, drool is used to indicate the Neanderthal residue that still composes the DNA of the male of the species. (Evidently, I’m the only man who doesn’t drool when he sleeps. Hard to believe I’m single.)

DVD Alternatives: (Each is old, but if you’ve never seen them, they’ll be new to you.)

Adam’s Rib. If you can abort a prejudice for black & white movies, you’ll find it a literate and funny battle-of-the-sexes comedy with husband and wife attorneys (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn) facing off in an attempted murder trial.

The Awful Truth. This classic screwball comedy has Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a divorced couple sabotaging each other’s new relationships. Grant reveals his expert touch with physical and verbal comic timing. Forget its age, it’s a perfect comedy.

Father Goose. Cary Grant escapes society by cruising the South Pacific. Trouble is, it’s during WWII, and he finds himself ordered to be an island aircraft spotter for the Navy. Further complicating matters, a marooned socialite and a gaggle of schoolgirls.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: Several crude sexual remarks and coarse references to body parts.
Obscene Language: Though the s-word has become the new “darn it,” the 20 or so uses of it here indicate the writer’s laziness and the actors lack of class.
Profanity: Three misuses of Christ’s name, four of God’s; both the leads utter profanities.
Violence: Fairly slapstick violence with moronic hoods getting a kick out of torturing a victim; a stun gun is used on a character; a dangerous car chase and crash; several instances of gunfire. Blood: A small amount.
Sexual Intercourse: A lotta talk about sex, but not much going on.
Nudity: In one scene we see the bare-bottoms of pole dancers in a “Gentlemen’s Club.”
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Some drinking and the female lead discusses an evening when she got so drunk she made-out with a nerdy coworker.
Other: None
Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Older

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