The Bounty Hunter Review

March 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm (Movies)

The middle of March is usually a great time for really solid comedies, as Spring starts to rear its beautiful head and old man winter clocks out for 9 months. Last year we were given the fantastic Jason Segel/Paul Rudd bromantic comedy “I Love You, Man” and Jody Hill’s dementedly brilliant “Observe and Report”. The year before Jason Segel yet again appeared when he wrote and starred in the uproariously funny “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. Unfortunately, the new Gerard Butler/Jennifer Aniston vehicle “The Bounty Hunter” isn’t particularly great at being hillarious, uproarious, or fantastic, but at the least it’s serviceable to the big fans of the romantic comedy genre while being a complicated mish-mash of storytelling elements. The story is fairly and rightfully simple, setting Gerard Butler as an “infamous” ex-cop/bounty hunter who is tasked with bringing in his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston after she skips a court date. Through the movie the two go back and forth as he trys to bring her in for his cash reward.

There’s a really fun concept here that’s shown a lot in the trailer, and on paper when you take a fun road trip style concept like that and you pair the talented director from Hitch (which was a comedy that I loved), you’ve got a great fun ride at the movies anyone can have a great time with. You could take that, extend it over an hour and a half, mix in some broad comedy with some smart wit and you’ve got another Hitch-esque fun time. For the first quarter of the movie, it sticks with that idea and was really promising, but as it started to continue along, I eventually turned by head, sat back in my seat, and wondered “Where’s this going?” As the film continues along past the first 1/3rd, it collects this unnecessary baggage in the form of extra plotlines that’s just not needed. Less than 40 minutes into the movie it starts to dip into a mystery tale that the film just doesn’t need at all. It’s hard to follow through a majority of the movie and is ultimately uninteresting. That, combined with off-an-on action that for the most part work and a sprinkle of average comedy, culminates for 3 half-hashed elements that taint the rest of the movie. This ends up sacrificing time and effort that could have went into making the romance and comedy, the better elements, all the better they could have been. It’s just disappointing that the fun premise we’re promised is lost in the shuffle of frenetic and sometimes confusing direction.

That’s not to say The Bounty HUnter isn’t an enjoyable movie. Fans of the romantic comedy genre, not looking to what could have been, will be pleased. There are other remote elements that the film does well. There are a few really fun set pieces the director Andy Tennant utilizes, including the parade chase at the beginning of the film that uses a great rooftop running sequence, the chase/driving shot at the golf course that got a number of laughs from me, and a car chase scene in the infamous Chicago railway used countless times before that comes toward the end of the movie. Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston also work as leads that are consistently likeable, and at times have their moments of comedic charm. Jeff Garlin shows up to do his schpiel and Jason Sudeikis does the stalker schtick well. I actually found myself cracking up quite a few times in some of the moments of physical comedy. Overall, I thought I had a pretty sufficient analogy talking to a friend Friday night after my screening. It seems like Andy Tennant and his crew shot a film that was just a road trip romantic comedy that was really fun, and then realized they only had about 30 minutes of footage. So they went and added an unnecessary mystery plot to “keep the guys interested” and because of it you forget the two leads are supposed to get together and there’s not enough time to get to know the two before a mystery plot point pops up to take you out of that moment.

All in all, if you’re willing to overlook some filmmaking flaws that add some completely unneeded weight to the film (which chances are if you’re the target demographic or you’re looking for a date film you’re not), then you’ll have a fun time at the cinema. However those looking for romantic comedies up to par with Tennant’s previous work in Hitch need look elsewhere.

2 1/2 out of 5


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