Gerard Butler is Milo—an ex-cop, ex-husband, ex-cruciatingly obnoxious dude who has to resort to work as a bounty hunter in order to survive. Of course the big complication arises when he gets the gig to bring in his ex-wife Nicole (Jennifer Aniston), who has skipped bail over a traffic violation she was planning on fighting in court. It seems her work as an investigative reporter on a murder case kept her from the date with the hard-nosed judge who apparently regards her encounter with the law as a threat to society, thus the over-reaction and hiring of the bounty hunter to bring her in. Anyone who has ever taken Movies 101 knows this flimsy conceit exists solely to bring these two battling morons back together—because when you really get down to it, they still have a thing for each other. Man, who would see that coming? Of course it's not enough to center the whole movie just on the handcuffed, in-the-trunk,-out-of-the-trunk shenanigans of these two, so a lot of actors are also hired to play completely ludicrous characters who chase them around. There's "Saturday Night Live" star Jason Sudeikis as another reporter who has the hots for Nicole and chases her around town. There are some evil types connected with the murder case who are trying to chase her as well, along with thugs out to collect on Milo's gambling debts. You get the picture. Total mayhem for our beautifully chiseled stars.
It's best to go into "The Bounty Hunter" with zero expectations for anything other than a star vehicle. On that level, die-hard fans of this attractive couple might be able to shovel through the clichés of the form and find elementary amusement. But director Andy Tennant's frantic pacing and screenwriter Sarah Thorp's numbskull script don't make it easy. Aniston obviously is at a point in her career where the payday and the prospect of a "fun shoot" may outweigh other concerns—like a story—but she's a capable actor who is easy on the eyes and makes the most of what she's dealt. The "ugly truth" is that Butler, a really talented Scottish actor who is being Hollywoodized is in danger of repeating himself, or even worse taking on Matthew McConoughey's rejects. This is the second time in eight months he has played this kind of boorish guy who's really not quite the loser he appears for the first 90 minutes.
Too harsh? Actually, the sad thing is, good romantic comedies are on the endangered species list. "The Bounty Hunter" proves the point.
Written by: Sarah Thorp
Directed by: Andy Tennant
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Jeff Garlin, Cathy Moriarty, Christine Baranski.