The Bounty Hunter

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Christine Baranski and Dorian Missick. Directed by Andy Tennant.
Rated M (sexual references, violence and coarse language). 109 mins.

Hollywood seems to have had great affection for films about battling couples who rant at and wrangle with each other but who, underneath all the squabbling, turn out to really love one another. Think Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Adam’s Rib, among other movies. Think Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. Think any other couple you like. But don’t dare think Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler.

You enter a charisma-free zone with this lame excuse for a romantic comedy. Almost nobody connected with it has any idea of comedy, and that includes writer Sarah Thorp and director Andy Tennant. Honorable exceptions are supporting actresses Christine Baranski and Siobhan Fallon Hogan, but they have such minor roles that they can’t pull the doomed enterprise out of the sludge in which it is sinking.

Butler and Aniston play a divorced couple, Milo and Nicole. He is a sacked cop reduced to taking assignments as a bounty hunter — i.e., tracking down and apprehending wanted criminals for a fee. She is a journalist, investigating a suicide that she believes to be murder most foul. Pursuing a hot lead causes her non-appearance in court to answer a minor charge, and an apprehension order is issued against her.

Lordy, lordy! Guess which bounty hunter is hired for the job of bringing her in?
She runs away. He chases. They argue. She tricks him and runs away again. This goes on for far too long. They go to Atlantic City so there can be heavy product placement for Donald Trump’s frightful Taj Mahal hotel. And wouldn’t you know (gulp!), at one stage in their flight they find themselves at Cupid’s Cabin, a sickeningly cute rustic hideaway where they spent their wedding night all those years ago …

Halfway interesting actors might have made this feeble trifle mildly entertaining, but Butler and Aniston cannot convince that a flicker let alone a flame of passion ever animated these characters. They are dull, boring, charmless. In one sense they deserve each other, but that’s no reason to inflict them on a movie audience.

As a romance it’s a damp squib. As a comedy it is devoid of laughs. What a turkey!

Sony  
Out March 18

Mr Jim Murphy is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

 


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