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The Bounty Hunter DVD Review

The Bounty Hunter (2010) movie poster The Bounty Hunter

Theatrical Release: March 19, 2010 / Running Time: 111 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: Andy Tennant / Writer: Sarah Thorp

Cast: Jennifer Aniston (Nicole Hurley), Gerard Butler (Milo Boyd), Jason Sudeikis (Stewart), Jeff Garlin (Sid), Ritchie Coster (Ray), Cathy Moriarty (Irene), Peter Greene (Earl Mahler), Joel Marsh Garland (Dwight), Dorian Missick (Bobby Jenkins), Siobhan Fallon Hogan (Teresa), Carol Kane (Dawn), Adam Rose (Jimmy), Adam LeFevre (Edmund), Lou Sumrall (Bone), Tracy Thorne (Membership Director), Amanda Dutton (Darla), David Costabile (Arthur), Christian Borle (Caddy), Gio Perez (Uncle Sam), Jayne Houdyshell (Landlady), Lynda Gravatt (Judge), Christine Baranski (Kitty Hurley)

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Hollywood has been serving up a lot of action-comedy-romances lately. The most successful recent entry was Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but I'm not sure we can credit that marriage-wrecking 2005 hit for the current trend. Whatever the cause, the major studios have been churning out many high-profile pictures in this subgenre. First came last December's Hugh Grant-Sarah Jessica Parker pairing Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which nobody seemed to notice.
Then, this year has brought Steve Carell and Tina Fey in Date Night, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl in Killers, and Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Knight & Day. Aiming for broad appeal, these kindred PG-13 vehicles have been backed by fairly large production and marketing budgets. But they've proven less popular with audiences than with studios; of this 2009-10 crop, only Date Night can be deemed a real hit and it won't pass the $100 million mark domestically.

Also part of the flurry was The Bounty Hunter, starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Like fellow Columbia Pictures release Morgans?, Bounty Hunter skewed a little more toward romance than action and understandably attracted more of a female crowd. Grossing over $67 million on a reported $40 M budget, the film was profitable (and more so than any of the others except Date Night) if not quite remarkable by even the less intensive spring movie season standards. For a project sold largely on its leads, the numbers neither doubted nor reaffirmed the star power of Aniston and Butler. But considering the film's ice-cold reviews and its familiar stylings, every expectation for a project that screamed "safe investment" was met.

Cop-turned-bounty hunter Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) pays his ex-wife a surprise visit at the racetrack. With a bench warrant out for her arrest, Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston) finds herself handcuffed to a bed headboard by her ex-husband.

Melding a story that could have come from the 1980s or '90s with modern romantic comedy sensibilities, The Bounty Hunter centers on a divorced couple. The role referred to in the title (which is as uninspired as anything else here) belongs to Milo Boyd (Butler), a former cop now getting by pursuing those with warrants out for their arrest. Ex-wife Nicole Hurley (Aniston) is faring better as a reporter for New York's Daily News, but a freak incident dramatically classified as "assaulting an officer" puts her on Milo's radar when she misses her court date to follow a story lead.

The movie isn't really any more complex than this premise it was sold upon. He's got to get her to the police to collect a $5,000 reward. She isn't going to go without a fight. Because there are only so many obstacles you can put between a bounty hunter and a nearby police station, the film does present separate threats for him and her. The enforcers of a bookie whom Milo owes $11,000 are looking for him. More dangerously, a source Nicole was supposed to meet has been kidnapped and the same criminal is now seeking her. Buckle your seatbelts, boys and girls, because this is going to be one bumpy Fourth of July weekend!

The Bounty Hunter seems to half-work. Specifically Aniston works, and Butler less so. The "Friends" star is likable as she usually is, landing jokes and handling the acting she's given. Speaking with a weird, spotty American accent, the 300 hunk is far less appealing as the brutish slob. Parts of his performance appear to be modeled after Robert De Niro's turn in the best bounty hunter movie I know, Midnight Run. Milo even has his own equivalent of Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton's chump from that film), though his is working for the bookies and less focal.

Nicole's bicycle cart getaway ride comes to an end when Milo bumps into her. Jason Sudeikis tries to prove he's not the reason today's SNL sucks with his turn as goofy ladies' room intruder Stewart.

Sadly but unsurprisingly, Bounty Hunter finds far less success than that 1988 buddy comedy it fleetingly channels into a romcom. This film relies heavily on ex comedy as in "Ooh, they're exes -- now that's the kind of hate comedy I can get behind." Actually, laughs born out of a relationship dissolution are rarely funny and this film doesn't upset that reality.
Tough guy Milo's juvenile toying with Nikki never starts to be funny. At the same time, you never take the serious stuff seriously. That man in the black SUV may be firing a gun, but our preconceived notions of a Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler film eliminate any possibility of true peril. And, of course, though this practically goes without saying, there is never a doubt where this movie is destined.

To recap... Predictable? Yes. Suspenseful? No. Funny? Not so much. But it's not all bad. The movie is competently executed and noticeably better than the basic cable TV movie it could have played as. Though a little longer than it needs to be (the plot waits for the inevitable rekindling), it's relatively fast moving and generally painless. And, if nothing else, Bounty Hunter is considerably better than director Andy Tennant's previous action romcom, 2008's McConaughey-Hudson flick Fool's Gold (low praise, I admit).

Jeff Garlin ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") supplies some amusement as a bail bondsman/father, as does Jason Sudeikis ("Saturday Night Live") as a mustachioed colleague of Nicole's who wants to be her partner on a story and in life. Playing one of cinema's countless 50-something teenaged mothers, Christine Baranski doesn't add much as a diva stage act. In less screentime, Carol Kane is as likely to make you crack a smile as half of a B & B-owning couple.

Sony brings The Bounty Hunter to DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday.

Buy The Bounty Hunter on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English, French, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $28.95
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($38.96 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Bounty Hunter is given standard 2010 DVD treatment, which means its presentation is no longer stunning, but still absolutely satisfying. As an HDTV owner, I have to wonder whether anyone would feel the need for Blu-ray on this title after being shown the DVD's crystal-clear picture and sufficiently lively soundtrack. I can find nothing bad to say about the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Filled with music, the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is front-oriented. Even in action sequences, it's none too immersive, probably by design. The film is fitted with regular English subtitles, hearing-impaired ones resembling closed captions, a French dub and subtitles, and a descriptive track for the blind.

Director Andy Tennant and another crew member show Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston what they have to do in "Making 'The Bounty Hunter'." An invisible bird seems to express disapproval at this Rule for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter. Jen's action pause shares the screen with Gerry's romantic eyes on the DVD's main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The Bounty Hunter's DVD includes three extras.

In "Making The Bounty Hunter" (17:40), everyone explains their attraction to the project and satisfaction with it.

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Praise is passed all around for director Andy Tennant and cast members (among whom, Jason Sudeikis provides some amusing comments). Besides making us privy to behind-the-scenes footage of the comfortable production, there is talk of stunts and challenges. Naturally, overestimation abounds.

"Stops Along the Road: Hunting Down Locations" (11:10) discusses shooting in Atlantic City and different parts of the New York metro area. Most of the comments come from production designer Jane Musky, who reveals some of the thought that went into giving homes and styles to characters.

"Rules for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter" (1:21) dispenses eight tips for elusion, which are basically just clever ways of wording the exhibited film clips.

The DVD loads with promos for Sony's make.believe philosophy, Blu-ray and Sony's BD-Live offerings, Chloe, and The Back-up Plan. All but the first spot are also available on the Previews menu, where they're joined by trailers for Get Low, The Runaways, Extraordinary Measures, Nine, Dear John, "Drop Dead Diva": The Complete First Season, and Starz miniseries "The Pillars of the Earth."

The main menu runs a minute of montage in an ever-changing variety of rectangles alongside dangling handcuffs.

Like "Hart to Hart", Milo (Gerard Butler) and Nicole (Jennifer Aniston) make themselves detectives. To solve a murder, they take to a golf club to look for their suspect.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Bounty Hunter is pretty much what you'd expect to be. It's cheesy and routine, but more tolerable than many romcoms due largely to a game Jennifer Aniston. Sony's DVD delivers a knockout feature presentation but is missing a number of the extras that have come to be standard inclusions. There are no deleted scenes, no audio commentary, and, most shocking of all, no outtakes. You can easily imagine what they would be like. In fact, use your imagination and the cast list above and you can come up with a mind movie that will be awfully close to the predictable real thing.

That real thing is ordinary yet okay. If you're drawn to the genre and the stars, you probably won't mind it but only a super special viewing experience could qualify it as memorable or unusually entertaining.

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The Bounty Hunter Songs List (in order of use):
Sean Kingston - "Fire Burning"
Blurtonia - "In Yer Own Bed"
Jerry Reed - "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)"
Cage the Elephant - "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked"
The Rolling Stones - "Hang Fire"
Ke$ha - "Tik Tok"
Frank Sinatra - "This Town"
Run DMC - "It's Tricky"
The Bee Gees - "Stayin' Alive (Teddybears Remix)"
John Parricelli - "Juan-les-Pins"
Marvin Gaye - "Let's Get It On"
The Boneless Ones - "On My Mind"
D. Sardy - "Flight of the Serpents"
Lolene - "Rich"
Marika May - "Hungry 'n Tipsy"
Teddybears featuring Red Fox - "Get Fresh With You"
Ke$ha - "Your Love is My Drug"

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Reviewed July 7, 2010.



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