March 25, 2010

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The Bounty Hunter (PG-13)
Gerard Butler continues his quest of making me forget why I liked him so much in 300 with The Bounty Hunter, another nerve-fraying romantic comedy.

Milo (Butler) is a bounty hunter who is living a life of general slothness in an attempt to forget his heartbreak at the end of his marriage to Nicole (Jennifer Aniston), one of those journalists who work at imaginary newspapers where people are given endless time to flit about not turning in stories. Nicole is arrested for a car accident involving a police officer but fails to show up at court — thus technically jumping bail — because she is following a “Big Story.” (At which I scream internally because “Big Stories” almost always involve work-intensive but totally action-adventure-free hours of reading through lots of documents and talking to mid-level government-types. I have yet to meet a reporter whose source is kidnapped while waiting to meet with her and who then is chased by assorted bad guys while she tries to get the scoop. This must be what it’s like when actual martial arts practitioners watch kung fu movies.) Milo is delighted to be sent after her. Mwah ha ha, he seems to say, a chance to take out his hurt feelings by stuffing his ex-wife in a trunk.

After more screeching than you’d hear at a Twilight premier, Nicole is eventually able to convince Milo that people really are after her, and soon the couple is on the run together, where old feelings are rekindled in their hearts and queasy feelings are created in my stomach.

I’m torn here: Do I spend the next 200 words complaining about the painful contrivances that fill the story, the misunderstandings that keep the couple apart, the moronic actions that shove them together so much longer than necessary? Or should I instead focus on the fact that nobody acts this way? Grown women and grown men do not relate to each other with one-liners that sound like they came out of warring lad mag and Cosmo articles. It’s a special kind of bamboo-under-fingernails torture to watch these two “banter.” I like rom-com escapism featuring a big-shouldered hunk of handsome just as much as the next girl, but I don’t think I can sit through much more of these no-brained offerings, at least not without some kind of prescription-grade painkiller.

But, really, why elaborate on any of this movie’s fatal flaws? The Bounty Hunter is what happens when somebody comes up with a concept (“a bounty hunter has to catch his ex-wife, who he’s still hot for”), attaches a few mid-level stars but then forgets to write any kind of story. D-

Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive comments, language and some violence. Directed by Andy Tennant and written by Sarah Thorp, The Bounty Hunter is an hour and 46 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Sony Pictures.