I Was Right…for the most part…

and they were wrong…for the most part…

I asserted in an earlier post that The Bounty Hunter (TBH) would be very entertaining if only one let themselves sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

And I was right. I found it immensely entertaining. While I may have been perfectly willing to shell out the ten bucks just to sit in the front row and look at Gerard Butler fifteen feet tall, that would have no bearing on the fact that I laughed out loud… a lot.

I did say that TBH was hedging its bets by calling itself an “action comedy” as opposed to a rom-com. In this, I was wrong. It is an “action comedy”… with equal emphasis on action. (It’s a road movie that very much resembles Midnight Run and as a very few have noted, It Happened One Night.) IMHO,insisting it’s a romantic comedy just makes it easier for some critics to hate.

The action sequences were well executed, whether they were played for laughs, like the golf cart fiasco, or played straight up like the car chase/shoot out, and there was a believable and menacing villain, played by the always scary Peter Greene. Greene was a great contrast to the played-for-laughs ineptitude of the leg breakers employed by Cathy Moriarty’s bookie.

The supporting cast was close to stellar. Siobhan Fallon stole every scene she was in. I wasn’t impressed with Jason Sudeikis, perhaps because I had such high expectations going in. (His cheesy mustache deserved its own credit) Until his last scene that is. I swear I heard bone crunch when he fell. I do have to agree with one critic who said Christine Baranski looked like a drag queen. (She is extremely talented and I’ve always liked her, but she’s starting to look like a combination of the puppet “Madame” and a scary clown.) I have to admit I found her lecherous attraction to her daughter’s ex-husband extremely amusing.

Reviewer after reviewer has claimed Butler and Aniston had no chemistry. I’m baffled by this. Not only did I think that they DID, (this thought perhaps not a little helped by the fact that I know they do in real life-and no I don’t mean I think they’re “dating”) but Aniston certainly had more chemistry with him than with any other male co-star, including Vince Vaughn. Butler, for his part, definitely had more with her than with his last romantic female lead, Katherine Heigl.

Speaking of Mr. Vaughn, another frequent complaint is that no audience would buy that Aniston’s Nicole, a together, savvy careerist (despite her inappropriate wardrobe *insert eyeroll*) would fall for Butler’s big, boorish, cavemanish mess of a cop turned bounty hunter. Really? But they did buy her sophisticated, attractive, art-loving Brooke falling for Vaughn’s big, lazy, selfish, schlubby, video games and beer obsessed Gary?

Battling sexes haven’t been new since the Greeks and even ones who do mean and nasty things to each other haven’t been new since Albee. So what?
I got that Nicole dealt with the failure of her marriage by diving headfirst into her work and consequently her star rose. (But I’m betting she didn’t have a great social life.) I got that Milo dealt with the divorce by falling apart. He didn’t become the mess we see at the beginning of the film until AFTER he lost Nicole…and instead of recognizing the pain for what it was, he blamed her. All of which leads to the film’s main plot.

I get that as mismatched as they may seem that they could have been attracted to each other. Do opposites never attract? Of course they do. This is not YOUR relationship…but I’m sure it mirrors somebody’s. Is it almost certain that a couple like this will fight and bicker for the rest of their days? Absolutely. It is also almost certain that the making up will be just as explosive.

So, to summarize I enjoyed this movie. It was 110 minutes of fluff to be sure, but I had figured that out before I went in. My point is it was entertaining, enjoyable fluff. There is a place for a movie like this. It’s fun eye and ear candy. No one subsists on a diet of candy but it is nice every once in a while.

What I want to know is why don’t so-called “critics” get that? This is not the first time I’ve questioned the disconnect between critics and audiences, and this is just yet another case where the gap in between has stretched into a gulf.

In this case, part of it can be blamed, IMHO, on the TSUNAMI of pre-release publicity this film had received. It started during filming with tabloids publishing &/or posting paparazzi pics from the set. The gossip mongers did everything they could to turn this onscreen pair into a real life pair, using as evidence, actual scenes being shot and spinning stories of the cast & crew having dinner together into intimate dates for “Jen and Gerry.” And while they both proclaimed there was nothing going on romantically, they looked so cute together and couldn’t stop extolling each other’s virtues to the point where the press couldn’t stop trying.

Let’s face it, these two know the business they are in. They may have proclaimed themselves “just friends” but their actions did nothing to dispel the image that there was something more. From the Golden Globes in January to the NYC red carpet last week, they were all over each other. I’m sure most of it was in service of the movie, while the rest of it was that they do genuinely LIKE each other (and G is just a touchy-feely kind of guy.) So after nearly a year of all that, I do believe that some with the power of the pen and the internet at their backs went in expecting to see sparks fly the likes of which haven’t been seen on screen since Bacall taught Bogie to whistle. And since this type of movie rests largely on the “chemistry” between the two leads, when that didn’t happen to their satisfaction, it was, therefore, easier to pick apart the rest of the film.
From there, I think most of the “bloggers” followed the way of the main stream critics.

That still leaves the gap between what a lot of people are being told and what they think for themselves. Again I assert that there is a place for movies such as this, even if they aren’t everyone’s cuppa. Does the fact that I can appreciate Kurosawa and Bergman preclude me from being able to enjoy something like this? I won’t even say I’ve enjoyed everything from this particular director; his is not an oeuvre I seek out, but Hitch was a helluva lot better than I thought it would be.

It’s hard to read about someone you like and admire being eviscerated in bad reviews, either personally or the product that he’s helped to create. I have no doubt that there are even longtime fans who have been influenced by this deluge of bad press. They just didn’t see the same movie I did.

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