Andy Tennant’s The Bounty Hunter is a bizarre amalgamation of romantic comedy and buddy cop picture, synthesizing the plots of both genres as best they fit. Which is to say: one minute it’s one movie, and the next it’s something completely different. It’s rough going for the first hour or so, but if you can sit it out, it gets better by the end. A little.
The model here was obviously Martin Brest’s Midnight Run, with Gerard Butler in the Robert De Niro role, and Jennifer Aniston in place of Charles Grodin. Wait, that sounds too good: imagine Butler in his chauvinist The Ugly Truth persona, and Aniston as, uh, Kate Hudson.
And instead of Brest, we have the director of Fool’s Gold. Butler’s Milo Boyd is the De Niro bounty hunter, an ex-cop who now makes his living chasing down bail jumpers for the local bondsman. Aniston’s Nicole Hurley is Milo’s ditzy, but successful, reporter ex-wife, who has just jumped bail while chasing down a big story.
You can see where this is going. Spoiler warning: while the characters initially hate each other, they eventually come to embrace one another in a lengthy journey fraught with cliché and contrivance. Sounds familiar.
But wait, there’s more, in the form of two perfunctory subplots lifted from Midnight Run that seem to take up at least half of the runtime: Milo is chased by some ha-ha mafia goons over gambling debts, while Nicole is chased by some more serious goons for snooping around a suspicious suicide. Exciting!
The Bounty Hunter continues a discouraging trend in recent films, taking two attractive, likable stars, paring them down to grotesque stereotypes, and having them yell at each other for most of the movie. I think it was Dante’s 4th or 5th circle of hell that was reserved for looped screenings of Leap Year, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, The Ugly Truth, What Happens in Vegas, Bride Wars, and so on and so forth.
Lost amidst the wreckage is a talented supporting cast, including Jeff Garlin as the bail bondsman, Siobhan Fallon as his secretary, Christine Baranski as Joan Rivers, and Peter Greene as the go-to bad guy.
These characters – and others – are left in the background as we’re treated to endless, and laughless, mugging from Saturday Night Live‘s Jason Sudeikis. In an effort to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, the makers of The Bounty Hunter have combined action, detective story, thriller, romance, and comedy material into one big mess; none of the elements have been done any justice, ensuring that the resulting film appeals to no one. Great.
Judging by the trailers, we can expect more of the same from Shawn Levy’s Date Night, with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey, and James Mangold’s Knight and Day, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.