The Bounty Hunter" is an amusing romantic comedy with some out-loud laughs.

It's a throwback to the caper film of decades of yore on the order or, rather, disorder of "Something Wild" (1986) and "The Freshman" (1990) for its mix of shenanigans and small-time crime.

Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston) is a New York Daily News reporter investigating a story about a man's plunge from a building that may or may not have been a suicide.

Nicole faces a bench warrant after missing a court appearance for a traffic citation. She's hauled in by bounty hunter Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), who happens to be none other than her ex-husband.

He's the "Hunter"-gatherer type.

The screenplay is a twist on the typical romantic comedy, where the couple meets cute. Here, Nicole and Milo are ugly to each other to begin with, and it gets uglier when they are chased by loan sharks and New Jersey mobsters mixed up in a scam to rip off a police evidence storage warehouse.

While the convoluted plot line gets in the way, "The Bounty Hunter" benefits from the onscreen chemistry of Aniston and Butler and their ability to mug a scene without getting arrested.

Aniston ("Love Happens," "He's Just Not That Into You," "Marley & Me," TV's "Friends"), with her facial gesture bag of tricks, including blinking her large expressive eyes, sidelong glances, brushing aside those treasured locks of hair and general chirpiness, is especially fun to watch.

Butler ("Law Abiding Citizen," "Gamer," "The Ugly Truth," "300") is good at playing an amiable foil. Christine Baranski provides several hilarious scenes as Nicole's over-the-top mother. Jason Sudeikis (TV's "Saturday Night Live") misses the mark as Nicole's co-worker obsessed with her.

"The Bounty Hunter" captures the Manhattan milieu as well as that of Atlantic City, which, the Borgata nothwithstanding, still comes off as only having the Vegas idea.

Director Andy Tennant ("Hitch," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Anna and the King," "Ever After") makes the most of the antics, chases and silly stuff in the screenplay by Sarah Thorp ("Twisted," "See Jane Run").

For better or worse, "The Bounty Hunter" should provide you with some diverting laughs and an incentive to pay those traffic tickets.

"The Bounty Hunter": MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for sexual content including suggestive comments, language and some violence; Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance; Run time: 1 hr., 50 mins.; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The 1982 novelty hit, "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)," sung by country singer Jerry Reed; "This Town," sung by Frank Sinatra; and "Hang Fire" by the Rolling Stones are heard on "The Bounty Hunter" soundtrack.

Box Office, March 19: "Alice in Wonderland" made it three in a row at No. 1, $34.5 million, $265.8 million, three weeks, forcing two new movies into a virtual tie: "Dairy of a Wimpy Kid," No. 2, $21.8 million, and "The Bounty Hunter," No. 3, $21 million. "Repo Men" opened way back at No. 4, $6.1 million.

5. "She's Out of My League," $6 million, $19.9 million, two weeks; 6. "Green Zone," $5.9 million, $24.7 million, two weeks; 7. "Shutter Island," $4.7 million, $115.7 million, five weeks; 8. "Avatar," $4 million, $736.8 million, 14 weeks; 9. "Our Family Wedding," $3.8 million, $13.6 million, two weeks; 10. "Remember Me," $3.3 million, $13.9 million, two weeks

Unreel: March 26: "How to Train Your Dragon" is a 3-D DreamWorks Animation film about a Viking boy who becomes the owner of a dragon. The film is co-directed by Dean DeBloois and Chris Sanders ("Lilo & Stitch") with voices by America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Craig Ferguson.

"Hot Tub Time Machine" is a raunchy teen comedy starring John Cusack, Crispin Glover and Chevy Chase about four guys who go back to the 1980s in a time-traveling hot tub.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes