Reviewed by: Debbie James
|Featuring:||Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alex D. Linz, Jennifer Grey, Tony Goldwyn|
|Producer:||Don Roos, Michael Besman, Steve Golin|
Although a good combination of actors can create great chemistry onscreen, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an act. “Bounce” proves that fact, as on again/off again, real-life couple Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow star in a film best described as a sweeter and less offensive version of 1999’s “Random Hearts,” blended with a little “Return to Me.”
“Bounce” begins with Buddy Amaral (Ben Affleck) clinching a big deal, with one of the perks being free airline tickets. While waiting at O’Hare for his flight home, which is delayed, he strikes up friendly conversation with several other stranded airline passengers. Buddy, Mimi Praeger (Natasha Henstridge), and Greg Janello (Tony Goldwyn) pass the time talking about their lives. Greg is a writer from Los Angeles and family man who just wants to get home for a special Christmas tradition with his oldest son, Buddy is a successful advertising executive (also from L.A.) who is attracted to Mimi, and Mimi is a beautiful businesswoman from Dallas who it seems, just wants to share her airline hotel voucher with someone.
When Buddy’s flight is finally able to board, he feels sorry that Greg was bumped to a later flight and therefore, will not make it home in time to be with his family, so he gives Greg his free ticket and convinces the airline employee to let him on. He then takes Mimi up on her offer to share a voucher.
The next morning Buddy is horrified to find out that the plane has crashed, killing everyone onboard. Realizing that he should have died instead of Greg causes Buddy to become so consumed with guilt that he turns to alcohol to escape the pain. After embarrassing himself by being drunk at a company awards ceremony, he checks into rehab. There he learns of the 12-Step recovery process. He has some difficulty with the program at first because he states that he doesn’t believe in God. After completing the program, however, he’s shown following one of the steps… the one that instructs you to make amends with anyone you’ve wronged. Since he believes he wronged Abby Janello (Gwyneth Paltrow) by inadvertently causing her husband’s death, he decides to check up on her to see how she and her two young sons, Scott and Joey (Alex D. Linz and David Dorfman), are doing.
It’s been a year since the plane crash and Buddy finds Abby struggling as a realtor. He pretends he’s looking for business property and gives her a lead of another building that his firm is looking into, hoping to give her the opportunity to make the deal. During the negotiation sessions they develop an attraction to one another. When she closes the deal, she takes him to a Dodgers game as a thank-you for his helping her. They continue seeing one another, their attraction turns into love, and Buddy develops a close relationship with Abby’s two boys. Unfortunately, they also end up sleeping together.
Abby talks about her husband occasionally which causes Buddy further pain in dealing with his issues. Throughout all this he never reveals that he knew her husband, nor his connection to the plane crash. Not only is he keeping those details from her, she’s keeping something from him as well. He tries to tell her on several occasions, but just can’t bring himself to do it. She eventually learns of his secret through a chance meeting, and she’s furious that he didn’t tell her and confused about how to deal with everything emotionally.
Objectionable material include the two implied sexual encounters: the first showing a couple in bed the morning after; and the second, a kissing scene, with some clothing removal, and the couple eventually kissing in bed. A man is shown urinating (from the back, therefore nothing is seen). Violence is limited to a dog attack ending in ripped clothing, but no injuries, and Abby’s boys have a brotherly scuffle. Several characters are shown drinking and/or smoking. In addition, the theme of alcoholism is present (one person becomes an alcoholic and another claims to be a recovering alcoholic).
Buddy’s new assistant, Seth (Johnny Galecki), reveals that he’s gay, but he doesn’t display the stereotypically effeminate behavior. Instead, he’s a likable, supportive guy who isn’t afraid to be direct with Buddy about his alcoholism and later, his relationship with Abby.
Offensive language consists of one use of the f-word, about a dozen common swear words, nearly two dozen misuses of “God” or “Jesus,” and several other instances of colorful language.
Bottom line: “Bounce” is just your average romantic drama with good writing and acting. The only thing remarkable about it is the real-life romance factor beneath the surface. “Bounce” is a mildly entertaining movie if you can tolerate the problematic material listed above.