The Bounty Hunter
– for sexual content including suggestive comments, language and some violence.
Director: Andy Tennant
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2010
Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, gets his dream job when he is assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife, reporter Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston). He thinks all that’s ahead is an easy payday, but when Nicole gives him the slip so she can chase a lead on a murder cover-up, Milo realizes that nothing ever goes simply with him and Nicole. The exes continually one-up each other – until they find themselves on the run for their lives. They thought their promise to love, honor and obey was tough – staying alive is going to be a whole lot tougher. Andy Tennant (“Hitch,” “Sweet Home Alabama”) directs. (from MovieWeb.com)
In 2005, director Andy Tennant apparently made a big mistake… a good movie. Hitch was a bit of a romantic comedy surprise. While it isn’t perfect by any means, it was one of the more fun and truly funny romantic comedies that stuck to the formula, but wasn’t without its share of surprises. Since then, Tennant hasn’t really been able to make lightning strike twice. And when the promising trailer for The Bounty Hunter was released, touted as from the director of Hitch, it sounded like a sure fire hit. However, it would have been considerably more appropriate to be tagged as “from the director of Fools Gold,” which was the 2008 mess of a movie that Tennant also put together. And sadly, The Bounty Hunter seems to be taken from the same playbook.
The biggest problem with The Bounty Hunter, and trust me there are plenty to choose from, may be the tone of the film. While Tennant wants to make it very apparent that this is intended to be a lighthearted comedy – all in good fun – the tone seems to be constantly changing. Jennifer Aniston’s Nicole and Gerard Butler’s Milo perform as your usual romantic comedy leads. But in this case, they’re bitter exes who obviously still have some feelings for each other, however, the two can’t help but dish out spiteful remarks and actions towards each other throughout most of the movie. Anyone who has an ex can probably relate to some of the “fun” they have in getting back at each other, and Tennant tries to keep even the meanest of spirited motions as light as possible. However, that very love/hate relationship makes it very hard to feel that there’s any kind of real love or attraction between the leads. When Milo switches from immature and vengeful to suddenly caring about his ex-wife’s feelings, it doesn’t seem natural at all. Any romantic watching the movie wants to root for their relationship, but there isn’t much there for Nicole and Milo to build upon. And when things finally do slow down and they just happen to be in the neighborhood of their old honeymoon spot, the “meaningful” conversation they exchange seems all too uncharacteristic of who we’ve come to believe they are and therefore just feels like it’s there because the writers and directors suddenly remembered this revenge story is meant to be romantic too.
On top of that, the comedic tone is off. Jason Sudeikis plays Nicole’s coworker Stewart who dresses in pastels and sports a ridiculous mustache. Sudekis plays it like he’s in Anchorman or a live action cartoon, and it dumbs down any scene he’s in, and ultimately throws off the comedic tone. Of course Stewart is meant to be annoying, but in the end, his entire character adds nothing, with the exception of maybe one decent laugh. And Stewart is really a great example of what is wrong with The Bounty Hunter. Almost every single supporting character seems like we’re supposed to believe they’re necessary, but each fulfills the romantic story stereotype – and poorly. The best supporting character might actually be Siobhan Fallon who seems to be able to make every piece of her dialog ridiculous and amusing in any project she’s in. But, in contrast, Christine Baranski plays Nicole’s horny Atlantic City performing mother, Kitty, who can’t seem to keep sex off the brain and displays no good reason why any sane person would call her up for advice (and Aniston’s Nicole doesn’t seem quite that unbalanced). The Bounty Hunter just ends up being not screwy enough to be a screwball comedy and not straight enough to be a more grounded in reality styled comedy. It falls somewhere in between, becoming nothing more than a misshapened, undercooked, haphazardly constructed storyboard of a better idea.
The content is another issue. The comedy relies much too heavily on random bedroom humor most of the time. Because of that, it’s mostly unfunny and dumb, making it even tougher to take the picture seriously. The entire approach to the film feels sophomoric, and upon learning it’s from the director of Fools Gold, that entirely makes sense now. But between random sexual remarks, Nicole’s horny mother, a stop in a “gentleman’s club,” and a variety of profanity sprinkled throughout the film (including over 30 uses of the “s” word and some blasphemy), The Bounty Hunter just feels like a unnecessarily dirty, sloppy, unromantic and unfunny “romantic comedy.”
With all the downsides to The Bounty Hunter, is there anything at all redeemable? The plot revolves around Milo having to bring Nicole in as a bounty hunting job. She actually skips bail because she gets important information about a suicide she’s investigating for a newspaper and must meet her contact during the court time she needs to serve. As she learns more about the story, we’re basically given a bit of a murder mystery angle. And while even that is handled relatively poorly (OK, it was handled very poorly), the mystery angle keeps the story somewhat interesting. Some of the relationship-building (or “rebuilding”) is shown in a few overlong scenes that wear out their welcome, but I was still a bit curious as to why this pair had even gotten together in the first place and what exactly was it that drove them apart. So, in the end, the overall story was entertaining, but it was so poorly executed and delivered that it seemed like such a waste of an attempt at all. (However, on the bright side, it could have been as bad as Year One, but it’s not.)
If you liked Hitch or even Tennant’s 1998 fairytale Ever After, you’re probably going to feel cheated with The Bounty Hunter. Aniston and Butler aren’t charming or good enough to save the picture, but they’re just “good” enough to make the film watchable. However, the content feels rather ugly at times and ultimately makes what could have been a fun or romantic story a pretty stupid and insipid “romantic comedy.” If you want a good newspaper reporter romantic comedy, rent His Girl Friday. It’s certainly worth skipping out on The Bounty Hunter.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/20/10)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Stewart harasses Nicole, asking her out constantly, and we learn they previously made out at a party while she was drunk; Nicole’s mom has a crude mind and makes many innuendo remarks. While talking to her on the phone, her mom asks if Milo said he was sorry while she (Nicole) was naked (She wasn’t). She then asks Nicole to get a picture of his butt on her phone and send it to her; While talking to the secretary at his job, Milo tells her he has a big surprise (or something to that effect) in his trunk (it was Nicole) and she asks him if that is supposed to be innuendo; Milo’s boss tells him to stop thinking with his “d*ck,” several times; Milo lies to Nicole that he’s had several wild, sexual relationships since their marriage end. Nicole asks if his current girlfriend is a stripper (he’s actually single); We see Nicole with some thugs sitting in a strip club, while several girls dance around poles in the background while wearing skimpy lingerie. Later we see those strippers closer up (but there’s no nudity). Some appear to be wearing large pasties (but only shown briefly in the background); We see a neon sign in the strip club of a stripper with a star over one of the breasts; The back door to the strip club has a woman’s legs painted on either side of the door (so it looks like you’re entering between her legs); Milo’s boss jokes (or half-jokes) that he has the same condom in his wallet since 1987; While Nicole is handcuffed to a casino hotel room bed frame and Milo is apparently sleeping, she crawls over him to try to get his gun. He wakes up and he asks if she is trying to seduce him. She says she is and he tells her to tell him what she wants to touch on him first. She says his shoulders, then his chest. He asks about if she’d like to touch something strong, powerful, and hard, and she says yes, and he says, “like my gun” and holds up his pistol; A maid walks in to find Nicole handcuffed to the bed frame and she comments that she might wonder why she’s in that situation. The maid comments that she just cleaned a room where a guy had a dog collar on in a bathtub filled with mayo, so nothing surprises her; Milo tries to get a cop he used to work with to give him some info and when he refuses to help, Milo reminds him that the cop used to kiss up to him all the time (which seemed to excite the cop a little too much?), and then he decides to help; When two bookie collectors are referred to as “a couple of guys,” they defensively insist they aren’t a couple; Nicole tells a teenage carriage driver she doesn’t have money on her to pay him, so he tells her he’ll let her go if she shows him her boobs. She thinks about it and says “OK.” In the next scene, we see she’s driving the carriage as he’s yelling back to her “What will I tell my boss?!” She yells back, “show her your penis!”; Nicole tells a tattoo parlor she wants a panther tattoo and describes how the paws would be holding up her breasts, the teeth would be around her tummy and that he should guess where the tail might go; A tattoo artist goes by the name “Bone.” When Nicole asks if it’s short for anything, he says “Boner.” He tells her to lift up her shirt so he could “see the canvas,” but she leaves; Nicole shows cleavage in most of her outfits throughout the film; We see Milo in just a towel after he takes a shower; Nicole tells a woman that the guy who lives at her place is in a lot of trouble. She asks what kind of trouble and lists a couple different issues, including “sex change kind of trouble?” to which Nicole obviously replies “no”
Vulgarity/Language: 31 “s” words (1 seen written twice); 1 “J-sus,” 5 “g*dd*mn,” 15 “h*ll,” 3 “d*mn,” 15 “a” words, 3 “a**h*le,” 2 “S.O.B,” 1 “cr*p,” 6 “d*ck,” 2 “pr*ck,” about 10 derivatives of “G-d;” 1 “b*tch,” a guy gives another guy “the finger”
Alcohol/Drugs: We hear that Stewart and Nicole made out at a party while she was very drunk; We see Milo drunk at a casino; There is some drinking, etc, in a strip club; There’s talk about drugs being part of a reported suicide (meaning it was a murder, not a suicide); We see bags of drugs laid out on a table
Blood/Gore: A man and his children appear to have scrapes and bug bites all over their faces – presumably from while they were camping; We see blood on a man’s shoulder, neck and the back of his shirt (as well as the front) after being shot; A truck is run off the road and we see it tumble a few times before stopping. A man with blood on his head and arms stumbles out. We later see him with dried, bloody marks on him; Milo has a red mark on his neck after being burned there
Violence: Milo holds on a gun on a few different people, including his ex-wife Nicole. He also locks her in the car trunk. She punches him in the groin when she gets out (seen twice) and he tackles her to the ground (also seen twice); An innocent man is tied up and held hostage, then hit in the leg with a golf club (played for laughs) because they think he’s someone else; A man is knocked unconscious when his head is slammed into a car trunk door; We hear lots of talk about a suicide victim that may have been murdered (and ways a suicide victim might jump off a building), but we never see the act; There’s a big car accident and a man stumbles out a bit bloody; A car chase involves gun fire and the cars trying to push each other off the road; Milo chases down a golf caddy, while Nicole drives a golf cart into a pond. In the water, Milo interrogates the caddy and pushes his head under the water several times; Nicole throws a vase at Milo and it breaks on the wall; A man punches another man in the face; Milo tackles a guy and then a bunch of police officers point their guns at them; The villain threatens a man with a tattooing needle instrument; We see a man taped up inside a closet (and other random violence)