The Bounty Hunter review (a.k.a. my open letter to Gerard Butler)

From the first time I heard about this project at its conception last year, I wasn’t psyched that my fave actor once again entered rom-com territory. Not because he isn’t funny or charming enough to pull it off, but after the abysmal The Ugly Truth, the script is likely going to be another stinker. TUT was a box office hit sure, but it was downright trashed by critics (14% rotten). Well, The Bounty Hunter actually managed to ‘beat’ that Tomatometer, barely moving past a single digit!!

The RT consensus says: Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston remain as attractive as ever, but The Bounty Hunter‘s formula script doesn’t know what to do with them — or the audience’s attention. No doubt the script was terrible, but so was the direction by Andy Tennant, the same guy who brought us Fool’s Gold, so no surprise that this movie earned a similar Tomatometer for the exact same faults: little chemistry among the performers (Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey), humorless gags, and a predictable storyline.

In any case, I saw this only because Prairiegirl and I have planned for it weeks ago, though I looked forward to hanging out with my friend more than the movie itself. To my surprise, the theater was packed. In fact, not only did we have to wait for about half an hour to get in, once we sat down, we’re told that the show was nearly sold out so we had to move towards the center of the theater. Though it opens at #3 this weekend with $21 mil, it’s actually a pretty decent number considering the production cost is only twice that. I told my friend that this kind of turn-out is exactly why silly rom-coms continue to be made in spite of the negative reviews (i.e. Valentine’s Day). Either people were oblivious to the reviews or they just chose to block it out.

So what’s the verdict?

Well, it pretty much confirmed my dread from the time the trailer comes out, and what it promises not to be, which is a smart, witty comedy. The only thing the two leads should be hunting down relentlessly is a decent script! Oh, and an adept director while they’re at it, too. Ok, so I didn’t abhor it as much as TUT — perhaps only because Jen, believe it or not, is the more watchable blond between her and Katherine Heigl —but to say it ‘sucks less’ is really not saying much. As for Butler, let’s just say when an actor comes across as much more likable and charismatic in his late-night interviews than his movie character, that’s just a really bad sign. There are some amusing bits here and there, but a lot of those came from the supporting cast, especially Siobhan Fallon Hogan as the manager of the bail bond office, Terese, that delivers the most laugh, and Christine Baranski as Aniston’s showgirl mother. I’m not going to be as generous as the average audience’s grade of B-, as it barely cracks a C for me.

Instead of a full review, I’d rather just take the time to get my long-overdue open letter to my fave Scottish actor:

Dear Mr. Butler,

GB as the disfigured tragic anti-hero

I’ve been a fan of yours for the last five years now. The first time I laid eyes on you in Phantom of the Opera, I was struck by your mesmerizing performance. I immediately tried to get my hands on as many of your previous work, only to realize I had seen you in other movies but didn’t recognize who you were. For the next couple of years, I always got a ‘Gerard who?’ every time I mentioned your name, but that all changed with the success of 300, when all of sudden Hollywood took notice of you and a slew of offers came your way.

As a fan, I was more than delighted to see your face splattered all over magazine covers, and it was no longer a challenge to find articles/video interviews of you like it used to. Best of all, I was psyched to see more of you in movies, which I thought was long overdue. I was tired of the go-to movie stars like Pitt/Clooney/Cruise and having ‘unknown’ actors like you on the big screen is a welcome change. What I love about you is how chameleon-like you are, as I’ve outlined in my Top Five Fave GB Roles post, and that you continue to mix things up: action, thriller, comedy, drama, kiddie flick, rom-com, you tackle ’em all. But it seems that genre-jumping just isn’t enough when the script leaves much to be desired.

GB as the romantic 'ghost'

With that in mind, allow me to respectfully offer this plea request as one of your avid admirer: Please don’t waste your talent on sub-par scripts, especially those that require you to be a neanderthal/ chauvinistic/ boorish/ obnoxious (and in the case of TUT and TBH, all of the above). I’m inclined to say ‘get off the rom-com’ trail, but to be fair, I quite enjoyed P.S. I Love You and your ‘Gerry’ character is both charming and sexy, a perfect combination of being manly and hopelessly-romantic at the same time. What I do want to say is, stay away from bad scripts! It doesn’t matter what genre, a bad script is a bad script, and it’s just not going to help your career.

Gerry the struggling alcoholic
GB as the struggling alcoholic in BBC's The Jury

You’ve always been open to the public about your passion for acting from such a young age. Even to the point of sacrificing your hard work and training in law to pursue your dreams. That determination and fearlessness are what your fans love about you and we truly believe you’ve got the chops to be a successful actor. So, let us see that ‘passion for acting’ come alive again, when you displayed such fire even in an obscure short film like Please! when money wasn’t obviously the driving force. I miss your dramatic and gut-wrenching performance (Phantom of the Opera), your nuanced finesse (The Jury, Dear Frankie), your regal and macho-guy-with-a-heart side (300, Timeline), and your delightfully funny & charming side (P.S. I Love You).

Oh another thing, if you want to be taken seriously as an actor, please try your best not to be a tabloid fodder like your co-star. Of course that isn’t something you as a celebrity can always control, but I do feel the more low-key a celebrity is, the less interested the paparazzi are in feeding the frenzy. In Hollywood, there are two camps of performers: the actor and the movie star. It’ll take a whole entire post to go in-depth on that topic, but let’s just say the former cares more about the craft of acting than the fame/privilege that goes with it. You’ve come a long way since you started over a decade ago, I’d love to see more of Gerard the actor and read more about your work and less about who you’re dating in a given week!

On that note, I am psyched about your next two major projects: Coriolanus and Machine Gun Preacher. Surrounding yourself with serious thespians and great filmmakers are definitely a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping for more substantial projects shaping up in the future, perhaps one day you’d bring your homeland hero Rabbie Burns to the big screen while you’re at it, too?

Sincerely,

your ardent fan, rtm

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