Some comedies fail because of poor execution their humor somehow lost in the transition from script to screen. Others like the Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler rom-com The Bounty Hunter are doomed from the outset lacking even the potential to be funny even in the best of circumstances. If you substituted Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in the lead roles and screened the film in a theater pumped full of nitrous oxide you would still hear nary a laugh emitted from the audience.
Continuing his tragic post-300 freefall Butler plays Milo a scruffy irascible cop-turned-bounty hunter with a pile of debt and a mounting drinking problem. The source of his troubles we learn is his pugnacious ex-wife Nicole (Aniston) a hot-shot investigative journalist who walked out on him a little less than a year ago. On the trail of a potentially explosive news story career-obsessed Nicole unwisely opts to skip a bail hearing relating to her accidental injuring of a police horse some months prior. When the fed-up judge declares her a fugitive a still-resentful Milo is only too happy to bring her to justice. Nicole unsurprisingly refuses to go quietly.
Aniston and Butler are both charismatic enough to form a decent screwball rapport (though Butler increasingly speaks as if his mouth is stuffed with peanut butter) but neither possesses the comic chops necessary to extract lemonade from the rancid lemons of The Bounty Hunter’s lifeless script which might as well have been sketched on a bar napkin the night before the shoot for all its imagination. Not helping matters is veteran rom-com director Andy Tennant (Fool’s Gold Hitch) whose most significant contribution is a handful of wacky chase sequences borrowed straight from Benny Hill (They leave one side of the screen then return on the other! Whoa!) set to the nu-metal equivalent of Yakety Sax.
This appallingly unfunny rom-com is a crime against comedy. Lock it up and throw away the key.
Blonde and boyish drifter Mark (Kip Pardue) washes up onto North Carolina's beaches mysteriously talking about a quest for loggerhead sea turtles. Mark befriends a local hotel manager George (Michael Kelly) who's gay. George invites Mark to stay for free. They start a romantic relationship despite Mark revealing he's HIV-positive. Middle-aged Grace (Bonnie Hunt) a little crazy pines to meet the son she gave to adoption years ago. A third story brings the other two together: a gay-hating minister (Chris Sarandon) and his homebound wife (Tess Harper) disown their gay son who ran away from home as a teenager. Loggerheads--though not brilliant--is three quality stories becoming one. Hunt disappears into her kooky dramatic role surprisingly well. She's usually the soft-faced lead in warm fuzzy comedies like Cheaper by the Dozen but strongly plays against type here. Harper relegated to indies and TV movies for the past decade is like a forgotten revelation. She conjures buried memories of her '80s roles like Tender Mercies or Crimes of the Heart. Pardue and Kelly are a formidable duo as two young men sharing an affair cautious yet intimate. They don't reveal too much to the audience too early. As a fresh-faced transient Pardue is believable as someone we don't trust entirely and as a gay character he doesn't conform to the caricature stereotypes. Kelly previously seen in 2004's Dawn of the Dead is serviceable in his conflicted role. Chris Sarandon is perfectly detestable as the rigid minister. Critics say Loggerheads lapses into misshapen periods of melodrama leaving the audience plenty of time to lose focus. Earnest lame folk music induces eye rolls. I wouldn't disagree--but the film's pacing is its heart and spirit. Director/writer Tim Kirkman has coaxed above-average performances from all his leads. The slow-moving backdrop of North Carolina lends the perfect tone of social-conservative repression like a less comedic bleak version of Desperate Housewives. Both TV's Desperate and Loggerheads coincidentally were honored at this year's L.A. Outfest.