AWFJ Women On Film” – “The Bounty Hunter” – Susan Granger reviews

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Why and for how long can Jennifer Aniston make formulaic romantic comedies? Certainly she was appealing as Rachel on “Friends,” the long-running TV series for which she and her cohorts banked multi-millions. But since then, Aniston’s become more known for her diet, lustrous hair and love life than her thespian efforts. Relentlessly courting the fashion press, she invariably wears stylish outfits and totes the latest handbag, as chronicled by ubiquitous magazine editors. But she has yet to prove herself a real movie star.

Following the debacle of last year’s “Love Happens,” in this synthetic, obviously generic, action-oriented trifle, Aniston plays Nicole Hurley, a New York Daily News reporter prone to dashing about in tight tank tops, mini-skirts and stiletto heels. (Contrary to what fanciful costume designers think, this is neither appropriate nor practical business attire for an investigative journalist). Nicole is just about to crack a murder cover-up/corruption case when an idiotic accident involving a police horse results in a warrant for her arrest.

Since her boorish, bitter ex-husband, Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), is a policeman-turned-bounty hunter with heavy gambling debts, he’s determined to turn her in. She resists. He pursues. She blathers. He blusters. What happens is not only tediously predictable but also somewhat baffling. That these bickering ex-spouses will re-connect is inevitable but his caveman-like courtship behavior and their insipid banter suffers in the hands of screenwriter Sarah Thorp and director Andy Tennant (“Fool’s Gold,” “Sweet Home Alabama”). Instead of reining in the frenetic gesticulating by everyone, including supporting actors Christine Baranski, Jason Sudeikis and Jeff Garlin, the filmmakers seem far more concerned about reaping in product placement payoffs, particularly the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

While the tabloids have been incessantly thumping their allegedly steamy off-screen romance, Aniston and Butler exude zero on-screen chemistry. Indeed, one wonders why mismatched Nicole/Milo ever dated in the first place, let along got married. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Bounty Hunter” is a time-frittering, money-wasting 2. Bail on this an annoying, obnoxious odd couple.

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Cynthia Fuchs

Cynthia Fuchs is Film and TV reviews editor at PopMatters.com and director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Sport & American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.