The Bounty Hunter

In a Word Staggering, Second Word Awful

         
 

19 March 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

The word staggering is an odd double-sided one that can be used in two ways. The first way reminds me of when I discovered the mind-expanding films of Oliver Stone in my youth, or what I felt like after Darren Aronofsky’s first couple of pictures that I found so visually sensational that experiencing them became an out of body experience. It’s also a word that can be used disparagingly. Indeed I found the new Gerard Butler/Jennifer Aniston comedy The Bounty Hunter to be staggering, as in staggeringly awful. After it was over, I felt more than just askew but actually frazzled – in an intensely agitated sort of way.

The genre is romantic comedy but the effect is feel bad, arghh, so many negative emotions are conveyed in this movie. Butler (“The Ugly Truth” rings a bell) and Aniston (“Management” rings a bell) are divorcees that find themselves cuffed to each other in a plot that could be solved in fifteen minutes before being squeezed out into one hundred and eleven minutes. Butler, as ex-cop Milo Boyd, is now a bounty hunter assigned to track down his ex-wife Aniston, as Daily News reporter Nicole Hurley, who has jumped bail.

The plot takes place up and around New Jersey and New York, and not cross-country, like that DeNiro bounty hunter semi-classic “Midnight Run” (1988). So it should be a rather short escort job but instead it is stretched-out to gratuitous lengths (shouldn’t the car ride be less than an hour to police headquarters?). But instead of reaching their destination, they throw the dice at an Atlantic City casino and also get shot at by goons on the highway. All this and ugly banter and not to mention proposed tattoo chair torture is what protracts the length.

What also rings a bell is the act of violence towards women, but also in store is persistent violence against wimpy, horny men. Jason Sudeikis (“SNL”) comes close to making the wimpy, horny and desperate guy almost funny but doesn’t quite pull it off even though his nerdy mustache is promising. But didn’t we come to the movie for a dose of machismo?

The real man of the movie, the marquee pull, is Butler with his buff meatloaf charisma. To his credit, Butler seems to have taken the cotton balls out of his mouth and talks more normal in this movie. He still has problems as an actor with conveying concern for anybody on the screen other than himself.

Aniston, with her meticulous suntan and sleeveless tops and skirts attire, is a generally attractive actress who is playing yet another woman who doesn’t play victim so easily. Although he-man Butler is the one who immediately locks her into a truck within minutes of meeting up with her in the movie. In a calmer mode, before bedtime, he handcuffs her to the least comfortable spot on the bedpost.

Now there are some people who wouldn’t recognize the violence towards women is perpetrated in this movie because they have become way too desensitized to see (generic) violence when it happens, and those are probably the same people who saw “Alice in Wonderland” and thought it was “beautiful.” We live in a pop culture zeitgeist right now when mean and malicious is what prevails as hip, and in a time when most people have never seen what a nice movie looks like.

All of this must sound like I objected to “The Bounty Hunter” because it is offensive in its objectivity of women, random violence, and violence against horny nerds. No, I object because the film is so idiotic that it makes “Ms. Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” look crime-smart and savvy in comparison. Cathy Moriarty and Peter Greene look lost and disinterested as the bad guys navigating through a non-sensical plot that has something to do with a key figure whose fake suicide was actually a murder.

In this tale of ex-spouses who scuffle with each other, and spit insults, and then find commonality, rebirth and renewed love in their relationship, is not feel-good. I imagine it is enough to make you want to fall out of love with the person next to you at the theater, in resentment of that person for dragging you to this staggeringly awful movie.

110 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

COMEDY / LAME JOKES / UNWATCHABLE MOVIE ANYTIME

Film Cousins: “Midnight Run” (1988); “Along Came Polly” (2004); “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous” (2005); “Management” (2008).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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