‘The Bounty Hunter’

Aniston your only friend in this limp turn with boyfriend Butler


You know you’re at the movies when the on-screen newsroom is full of vivacious, handsomely paid people busily moving to and fro. Also, when the supposedly ace reporter shows up for work every day in the highest heels and tightest miniskirt ever sold at Barneys, not to mention swinging her gorgeously streaked, immaculately blow-dried hair. What is this place? Ah, it’s the workplace of Jennifer Aniston. And as such, there’s no room for argument. We may as well settle more comfortably in our seats and stuff our faces with extra fistfuls of popcorn.

Aniston’s latest is called “The Bounty Hunter” and the plot is really beside the point. What matters is that she’s there, and she’s working and she continues to plug away at her job of being Lovely Jen, the Pretty Friend, come hell, high water or Gulf oil spill. The movie pairs her and then-real-life boyfriend Gerard Butler: Hollywood’s go-to guy for an obnoxious heterosexual hormonal rampage in the guise of a Homo sapien — but the chemistry that should be there just isn’t. According to the tabloids, Aniston and Butler were hot and sizzling at this point, mired in that stage of a relationship when a couple can’t keep their hands off each other. In the film, what we see is a man and a woman going through the motions. ad sigh. But isn’t that just like Jen, increasingly known as “Lonely Jen”? Despite being one of the world’s most desirable women, she’s always losing out on the dating scene, on the screen and off. (Exhibits A & B: “Breaking Up,” “He’s Just Not That Into You.”)

The Bounty Hunter
Director Andrew Tennant
Run Time 110 minutes
Language English

However, Aniston is nothing if not game, perhaps the gamest actress in Hollywood since Goldie Hawn. Here, she plays New York journalist Nicole Hurley, with Butler as her ex-husband Milo, whose drinking and gambling got him kicked off the police force. Now he’s a bounty hunter and his latest assignment is to bring in his former wife, who jumped bail for a traffic offense and is running around town hot on the trail of a murder coverup. One thing leads to another and they both wind up getting chased by the bad guys, bickering but gradually warming to the idea of starting over. So far, so Aniston.

As the film progresses, Butler accumulates the requisite manly wear-and-tear as they flee from a bunch of mafia types in bad suits but nothing — nothing! — interferes with Aniston’s hair, makeup, nails and totally to-die-for little black dress. At one point Milo stuffs her in the trunk of his car and later handcuffs her to his bed post (have you noticed that only in the movies do beds have these convenient posts, whereas in real life we just have reading lamps?) and yet she emerges without a single eyelash out of place. After a certain point (for me, it was when Milo asks Nicole “are you trying to seduce me?” and she says with a thoroughly bored expression, “yes”) it’s hard to care what happens to this blah couple. Much more interesting are Jen’s clothes and how she manages to look so good in a simple tank top — something Sarah Jessica Parker hasn’t been able to pull off since the collapse of the George W. Bush administration. The film leaves ample time to ponder these things as there’s little to think about in terms of the storyline. Director Andrew Tennant hovers worriedly between the opposite poles of rom-com and cop thriller and finally lands in a muddy, no-man’s land mindful of roadside rest stops.

Having said that, “The Bounty Hunter” is worth a look, if only to see Aniston, hard at work exuding that brand of friendly adorableness of which she has been the chief purveyor for nearly two decades.

Men just don’t seem to appreciate her as much as women — I once asked a boyfriend to take me to an Aniston movie and he fell into a coma — and that’s all right. It’s like belonging to a secret club where, after a hard day’s work, the members feel more comfortable sitting down with Aniston than sitting down with other iconic ladies of excessive success. Here’s to Aniston, wearing tank tops and starring in silly rom-coms for another 10 solid years.