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Put a bounty on this one's makers

Jennifer Aniston, left, and Gerard Butler play ex-spouses colliding in surreal fashion in The Bounty Hunter.

Columbia Pictures

Jennifer Aniston, left, and Gerard Butler play ex-spouses colliding in surreal fashion in The Bounty Hunter.

I hear complaints all the time about the way Hollywood gets this and that wrong about history, occupations, whatever.

I politely listen, remind the offended party that it's only a movie, hear a final round of grumbling then go on with my day.

Now it's my turn to gripe.

The Bounty Hunter stars Jennifer Aniston — oozing desperation as fame slips away — as Nicole Hurley, a reporter for an Atlantic City newspaper whose latest story is headlined: "Fighting parking tickets gets tougher." She's never convincing as a journalist sniffing something rotten in an apparent suicide, and conducting her own investigation complete with a paid informant named Jimmy (as so many movie snitches are).

Nicole does her job in a kicky black cocktail dress (plunging neckline, of course) and 4-inch high heels unsuitable for the running she'll have to do when her hunch is correct. She carries an overnight bag containing a Taser when needed but not sensible shoes.

Nicole's other problem is the title character, ex-husband Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), who's happily taking her to jail.

Nicole skipped a court date on a charge of assaulting a police officer. No respectable news organization would take either infraction as lightly as her editors do. In short, Nicole is a reckless Hollywood interpretation of my profession, and especially insulting to women in it.

Bounty hunters will likely feel the same about Butler's take on their job. I'll leave details to those folks. But a face looking like a tobacco chaw is always shoved in his cheek isn't my image of a leading man. That Aniston and Butler are reported to be dating — coupled with their distinct lack of chemistry in The Bounty Hunter — is another reason why tabloid gossip can't be believed.

None of these complaints would matter if The Bounty Hunter possessed even a smidgen of inspired comedy. It doesn't. The suicide-murder angle is so lame that screenwriter Sarah Thorp adds a bookie (Cathy Moriarty) and her goons chasing Milo for bad gambling debts. When drug trading is tossed in during the final minutes, it feels like yet another creative Band-Aid on a hemorrhaging wound.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at


The Bounty Hunter

Grade: D

Director: Andy Tennant

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Jason Sudeikis, Cathy Moriarty, Christine Baranski, Siobhan Fallon, Jeff Garlin

Screenplay: Sarah Thorp

Rating: PG-13; profanity, sexual humor, violence

Running time: 110 min.

Put a bounty on this one's makers 03/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 18, 2010 9:56pm]
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