(NBC) - For a long time in romantic comedies, and in real life, too, it seemed as if women wanted men who could be strong and sensitive at the same time, who could give as good as they got but when it came down to it knew how to turn on the old-fashioned courtly charm.
Well, say hello to the Gerard Butler era.
The grizzled, potato-faced Scottish hunk doesn't just look like a modern-day caveman.
He acts like one too.
In "The Ugly Truth" he taught Katherine Heigl that what women really want is a good old male chauvinist alpha brute, and now, in "The Bounty Hunter" he teaches the same lesson, with even less nuance, to Jennifer Aniston.
The two play a couple who've already been married and divorced.
He's a bounty hunter, and she's a reporter who got arrested for assaulting a police officer.
When she skips a court date to pursue a murder case, he has to retrieve her and bring her to jail.
The scenario may be as contrived as they come, but for most of "The Bounty Hunter", I certainly believed that these two hate each other.
The trouble with the movie is what we want to see is why these two really love each other.
Butler is certainly convincing in scenes where he has to lock Aniston in the trunk of his car, chain her to a motel-room bed, or rag on her for nothing in particular.
He's like Ralph Kramden in the body of Kirk Douglas.
Aniston is her usual sweetly feisty and appealing self, but if you're wondering what brings these two together, the answer isn't chemistry, exactly.
It's solving a crime.
In "The Bounty Hunter" the couple that foils a bunch of tiresome grade-C thriller goons together stays together.
Whether or not that's a recipe for love, it's certainly not a formula for romantic-comedy magic.