Okay, we get it. The Romantic Comedy has been, for some inexplicable reason, dumbed down and meaned up to the point where we just have to expect, as a matter of course, that a putatively hilarious popcorn flick about a bounty hunter who has to chase down his bail-jumping ex-wife will frame this particular battle of the exes in the nastiest way possible. There are dozens of witnesses to Gerard Butler’s (Law Abiding Citizen) brandishing of an automatic weapon in Jennifer Aniston’s (Love Happens) face and his subsequent dumping of her into the trunk of his car. Does anyone attempt to intervene on her behalf? (None of the bystanders know who he is or that he may, just barely, have the authority to do what he’s doing.) Does anyone call the police to report a violent kidnapping? Of course not. Because hey, movies like The Bounty Hunter have been telling us for years now that this sort of unpleasantness is akin to a spectator sport — like, for instance, the horseracing with which director Andy Tennant (the excruciating Fool’s Gold) intercuts Butler’s chasedown. It’s all in good fun. Except it isn’t. Perhaps Tennant ramped up the maliciousness as a distraction from the fact that his stars were evincing zero chemistry, but that only makes it even more unbearable when the ridiculous, contrived script — by Sarah Thorp, who wrote the terrible Twisted, which was at least hilariously awful — insists that these two unlikable and frankly idiotic people would fall in love all over again. Almost unimaginably, the mystery surrounding Aniston’s bail-jumping is even more poorly manufactured than the “romance” and the “comedy,” involving as it does apparent corruption in the NYPD and the preposterous notion that the New York Daily News — for which Aniston’s character is meant to be a reporter — is ever engaged in investigative journalism.
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