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With the release of "The Bounty Hunter" a little over a month away, co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are apparently making the ultimate sacrifice to help raise the flick's profile: They're vacationing together in a tropical paradise.

Just weeks after the pair's smiley, touchy-feely appearance at the Golden Globes, they were photographed soaking up harmful UV rays over the weekend in Los Cabos, Mexico, where the actress got an early start on celebrating her impending 41st birthday with her nearest and dearest pals.

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Jen, showing off her preternaturally toned figure in a parade of teensy, stylishly mismatched bikinis that will soon be all the rage, seemed to steer clear of Gerry's personal space in paparazzi shots, perhaps aware that proximity would fuel long-simmering romance rumors, which both have repeatedly denied.

Or maybe she was simply put off by his too small, Fruit of the Loom-ish baby blue swim trunks, or she feared distracting him as he sucked in his recently reduced gut for the shutterbugs.

Still, they must have known the are-they-or-aren't-they-an-item speculation would be quickly reignited by the South of the Border getaway, where Butler lounged poolside with Aniston's bikini-clad BFFs, Courteney Cox and Sheryl Crow (she shares the actress' Feb. 11 birthday).

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"Him turning up in Mexico is a good sign," a mole opines to the London Sun. "If she is inviting him to hang out with her closest friends they must be getting serious."

People magazine says that Jen, generous type that she is, flew a big group of besties down to the One & Only Palmilla resort on Thursday night, and they holed up in a luxurious oceanfront villa.

(Yes, it's okay to envy her amazing, happy-go-lucky life -- a lot.)

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The destination is one of her faves, and she apparently feels right at home, because she was snapped keeping up with her workout routine during the respite, burning off all those margaritas (we imagine) during an exercise session with Cox.

The sun-soaked sojourn comes on the heels of Aniston's denial that she made out with Butler in a kitchen at the Globes.

It also follows the actor's recent sidewalk grope-fest with a random, violin-playing young lady in Venice Beach, Calif., and his dismissal of rumors linking him to Reese Witherspoon.

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Whether the trip indicates a PR strategy or something more (word is, "Access Hollywood" landed the exclusive on the vacation), Jen is making sure her birthday isn't only about rest and relaxation.

The A-lister, who recently handed over $500,000 to the Haitian earthquake relief efforts, has reportedly asked her friends to forgo the gifts this year and instead make a donation to charity.

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