The Bounty Hunter (PG-13)

Review Date: January 6th, 2011

Some comedies fail because of poor execution, their humor somehow lost in the transition from script to screen. Others, like the Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler rom-com The Bounty Hunter, are doomed from the outset, lacking even the potential to be funny, even in the best of circumstances. If you substituted Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in the lead roles, and screened the film in a theater pumped full of nitrous oxide, you would still hear nary a laugh emitted from the audience.

Continuing his tragic post-300 freefall, Butler plays Milo, a scruffy, irascible cop-turned-bounty hunter with a pile of debt and a mounting drinking problem. The source of his troubles, we learn, is his pugnacious ex-wife Nicole (Aniston), a hot-shot investigative journalist who walked out on him a little less than a year ago. On the trail of a potentially explosive news story, career-obsessed Nicole unwisely opts to skip a bail hearing relating to her accidental injuring of a police horse some months prior. When the fed-up judge declares her a fugitive, a still-resentful Milo is only too happy to bring her to justice. Nicole, unsurprisingly, refuses to go quietly.

Aniston and Butler are both charismatic enough to form a decent screwball rapport (though Butler increasingly speaks as if his mouth is stuffed with peanut butter), but neither possesses the comic chops necessary to extract lemonade from the rancid lemons of The Bounty Hunter's lifeless script, which might as well have been sketched on a bar napkin the night before the shoot, for all its imagination. Not helping matters is veteran rom-com director Andy Tennant (Fool's Gold, Hitch), whose most significant contribution is a handful of wacky chase sequences borrowed straight from Benny Hill (They leave one side of the screen, then return on the other! Whoa!), set to the nu-metal equivalent of Yakety Sax.

This appallingly unfunny rom-com is a crime against comedy. Lock it up and throw away the key. rated this film 1 star.