The Bountyhunter

Are you an inventor in California? Are you looking to find the Snuggie pathway to the American Dream? I have some advice. Create a Gigli detector.

A what? A why? It’s obvious that celebrity power couples have a very hard time identifying cataclysmic vanity projects that will damage their career. While reading the script for ‘The Bounty Hunter,’ did Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston not notice the creeks of the floorboards and the spooky sounds of dragging chains upstairs, forever strapped across the backs of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s career? The reaction is unlikely to be that negative. It takes a coincidence of time, celebrity and arrogance to produce a train wreck for the ages. This is especially true of such a well-liked star as Aniston. Butler, however was a good choice for a film called ‘The Bounty Hunter.’ In Hollywood he would have a hard time getting arrested. Although if “Impersonation of a Charming Leading Man” ever becomes a crime …

If any director seems destined to eventually end his career in a Gigli-like disaster, it is Andy Tennant. Aniston’s ‘Friends’ episodes used to carry names like “The One Where Ross and Rachel Throw a Picnic and Get Mauled by a Bear” or such. Tennant’s romantic comedies fit those types of titles: “The One Where Will Smith Gets Kevin James a Hook-Up With a Cameron Diaz lookalike.” “The One Where Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey Fight Pirates.” Does anyone go to film school thinking, I really want to direct Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in a movie where they fight pirates?

If there is a good point to Tennant’s films, it is the way that they are structured. To their credit, they are shaped, in ways, like classic screwball. To their discredit, they’re lousy. One doesn’t need to be a decorated film historian to tell the difference between Katherine Hepburn and Goldie Hawn.

Aniston, here, is a hotshot newspaper reporter arrested for giving an accidental butt-kicking. To a police horse. With a car. When she fails to show up in court while chasing a story, they send Butler, her bounty hunting ex-husband, to retrieve her. Watch him stuff her in the trunk of his car! Watch them make up and make out! Ooooohh, what a perfect set-up for a Battle of the Sexes! You can only imagine how many times they fasten the handcuffs to the bed posts for a weak laugh.

How many movies so quickly and efficiently announce their intention to be awful? Granted romantic comedies are supposed to aim below the waist, but The Bounty Hunter introduces itself with not one but two crotch-punches in the first five minutes or so. That’s at least one more crotch punch than there are laughs in the first hour.

And no, like most bad marriages, it doesn’t improve with time.