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?


your ardent fan, rtm

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20 thoughts on “The Bounty Hunter review (a.k.a. my open letter to Gerard Butler)

  1. I’m currently typing up a post about whether the era of the movie star is dying. This was a weak open for the heavily hyped and marketed The Bounty Hunter as it was edged by Alice in Wonderland which is in its 3rd week and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a small budget movie with almost no marketing whatsoever. Could not happen to a better movie.

    1. As much as I like GB being regarded a ‘movie star’ now (though Aniston’s got more star power than he), I still think there’s the thespian side to him who’s in it for the craft. Yeah, I’m glad TBH didn’t open as #1, bad films (and filmmakers) should NOT be rewarded.

  2. rockerdad

    I have a feeling this letter will find its way to GB. There is one consolation: Gerry wasn’t in Anti-Christ 😉

    1. Ha! I hope so, rockerdad, you know I have his best interest at heart! You’re right, thank God he wasn’t in AntiChrist … that’d be the end of the road for me.

  3. Congrats on sitting through The Bounty Hunter! I agree with Gerard Butler. I feel with his success of 300, he’s taking every offer that’s thrown at him. If that’s the case, say NO once in a while. Even post-300, he was pretty awesome in RocknRolla, so it’s not like his talent is a one-trick pony.

  4. I agree with everything you said in your letter to Butler. Even more so with his awful choices in scripts. If anyone knows they are going to co-star in a film with Jennifer Aniston, they should know that their career is going in the wrong direction.

    1. Hi Heather, thanks for your response, especially from a fellow GB fan. I just hope this’ll be just a blip in his career just like most people don’t remember Clive Owen co-starred with Aniston in the also critically-panned ‘Derailed.’

  5. Julie Tan

    Wow, I love your bold and honest letter to GB. I think your observation is spot on. Hopefully, this will somehow get to to him…hahaha.

    Toast to a very well-written blog my friend!

    1. Thanks Julie!! I really, really like the guy, y’know, hence my honest letter. I doubt this teeny-tiny blog of mine will ever reach his attention, but hey, wouldn’t that be nice? 🙂 Thanks for the kudos, that truly made my day!!

  6. Mike B.

    Frankly, GB’d be wise to hire you on as his manager. Just thinking about the films he could be in makes me a bit sad.

    Like we discussed, he’s become part of the Hollywood Machine that’s all about pumping out films that simply make money. A few more of these lame movies and we’ll be asking “Gerry who?” once again …

  7. mcarteratthemovies

    Great letter, Ruth — I only hope he’ll take your suggestions to heart!

    Maybe once he does I’ll start to like him more. As yet, he’s only impressed me in a few things.

    1. Hey thanks M! I doubt GB will read my letter but if he did, yeah I hope he knew it came from the heart 🙂 Don’t give up on him yet, I think he’s proven in the past that he’s a good actor, he just have to be more selective. I really hope Coriolanus would do the trick!

  8. I don't listen to critics

    Though your letter is well-written, it made me quite nervous to read that you based your assumption on TUT solely on what professional movie critics said about it.

    It may be unknown to you that big studios actually pay some professional critics to trash a movie and praise another one that is far less interesting.

    One example is the very much hyped “Up in the Air” where no surprise at all, Georges Clooney only plays what he knows so well to play himself! Now why would anybody in their right mind go and waste money on such a movie in the first place? Some do on account of professional movie critics who are giving that same movie 4 stars and up.

    While in TUT Gerard Butler was not playing himself but an actual relationship expert who was even on Dr. Phil about 1 or 2 months ago and who happens to be more obnoxious than Butler’s character, Mike Chadway. Mike does see the light at some point and is the first one surprised when he falls in love with the Abby that he himself said would never find a man the way she was.

    Gerard Butler cannot play the Phantom of the Opera at every turn like some fans would like him to do. He has repeatedly said in interview he likes to vary his roles and take risk.

    Those who did see TUT actually came to enjoy the movie once they got past Mike’s obvious chauvinistic attitude towards women.

    I think most critics right now find pleasure in trashing TBH on account of Jennifer Aniston more than Gerard Butler and one has to wonder if it has anything to do with their rumored relationship or the fact that tabloids constantly make poor Jennifer sound needy and desperate to find a man.

    I totally disagree with most critics about Jennifer’s acting. I wish she would do more movies like Marley and Me in which she detached herself from comedy and went into more serious territory but maybe she is better at comedy after all because her other foray in drama, “Derailed” was far from being a hit. To trash a movie on account that one does not like Jennifer’s acting (and I’m not pointing the finger at you here but at professional movie critics and tabloids) is not a very good reason.

    I personally liked TBH but I wished it had been funnier. There could have been more scenes with the very entertaining Christine Baransky or Carol Kane, priceless at the Cupid’s Cabin’s owner. I do believe both Jennifer and Gerry did the best they could with the script they were given and that they do have great chemistry together and sometimes when actors have too good chemistry together in real life (remember Gigli with real life couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez?), it can actually act agains them for the movie.

    1. Hi, I appreciate your comment.

      You know, I don’t always agree with critics, in fact, in regards to GB, I disagree with their negative reviews of Law Abiding Citizen as I quite enjoyed it and thought highly of GB’s performance. As for TUT, no, I didn’t base my assessment on what critics think of it, now that wouldn’t be fair. I did watch the movie (hence my comparison between Jen and Katie Heigl) and I never said GB was playing himself but that I think his character is utterly unlikable. I simply couldn’t get past that boorish/chauvinistic persona of Mike Chadway even until the end when he seemingly ‘redeemed’ himself.

      You’re right that he can’t keep playing Phantom every single time, nor would I like him to. I do like the fact that he keeps mixing things up and choose varying roles, which is why I’m baffled that he’s willing a fairly similar character in two rom-coms back-to-back! I don’t know – and frankly don’t care – why the critics don’t like Jen’s acting style, but I can speak for myself in that she is playing the same type of character over and over again that I rarely get to see something new even if it’s in a different movie and different role.

      As for TBH, the only think that’d make it funnier is a better script, and perhaps a more capable director!

    2. The Ugly Truth was mediocre and it had nothing to do with Gerard Butler’s “obvious chauvinistic attitude towards women”. The characters were all unidimensional caricatures, the situation were completely improbable and unrealistic, affixed out of nowhere to extract cheap laughs. TUT is a perfect example of the run-of-the-mill rom-coms studios love to crap out every few weeks as they (usually) generate tons of revenues from a starved demographic.

      As for Jennifer Aniston, you know what you are going to get from her every single time. One day, she will play sad and down about, the next day she will play sentimental but at the end of the day, she is the same Rachel character with (very) slight variations. It does get annoying after a while but many people enjoy watching her. Personally, I think she would not be a movie star without Friends.

  9. Pingback: What are the best and worst things about being a movie blogger? « Ross v Ross

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