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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Bounce

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow
Director: Don Roos
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Joe Morton, Johnny Galecki, Caroline Aaron, Natasha Henstridge, Jennifer Grey, Alex D. Linz, Juan Garcia, Mary Ellen Lyon

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Here is yet another movie that they'll never show on airline flights. That should give the poor souls in coach at least something to cheer! "Bounce" is an insipid, mawkish romance drama which, absent the two remarkable principals in the cast, might find a comfortable slot on 4 o'clock TV. Thinking back to Gwyneth Paltrow's crackerjack performance in "Shakespeare in Love," one can say that the big advantage of "Bounce" is that the picture gives the audience a new appreciate of the Bard.

Bogged down with the usual soap opera baggage--woman in mourning from death of young husband; alcoholic business executive burdered with guilt; good friend acting as support vehicle and adviser to stricken mourner--"Bounce" is marred by the very so-called advantage proclaimed by its writer- director Don Roos: "It's very natural for contemporary writers to use spin and attitude and irony--and I love to write like that. But if you're going to do an honest lvoe story, if you're going to hook people into a relationship between a man and a woman, you have to leave that behind." Sounds OK in theory but in fact, under Roos's phlegmatic direction, the characters are far too often making the sort of conversation you'd hear in the neighborhood supermarket--and uninflected at that. Each sentence sounds like the last. Regardless of import, the phrases come from the actors' lips as though they were slow learners simply uttering the words at the teacher's direction without comprehending their meaning. There is just one exception. In a monologue that sounds like just that, Ben Affleck in the role of the guilt-ridden exec answers Gwyneth Paltrow's query about just what it is that he wants. "I want a last call in the evening. I don't have a last call in the evening."

The story takes root during an implausible chat among people who had just met at an airport lounge, when bad weather had delayed every flight on the board. Ad exec Buddy Amaral (Ben Affleck), anticipating a one-night stand with passenger Mimi (Natasha Henstridge), hands his own ticket over to Greg (Tony Goldwyn) who is anxious to get home to his wife. Greg is killed when the plane goes down. The guilt-ridden Buddy visits young widow Abby (Gwyneth Paltrow) at her real estate leasing job, and, unwilling to reveal the reason for his visit, the two fall in love, until...

"He doesn't give the fairy tale version of love," says producer Michael Besman in the press notes. "I think he gives it to you straight-up..." Unfortunately, that's the trouble. A romantic drama needs a touch of the fairy tale, some heightened language to elevate romance into art. Instead, Roos fills his script with what could be close to a record use of the annoying expression "you know," as though he were scripting the ABC comedy series "It's Like, You Know..." that starred one of the actors seen here in a side role, Jennifer Grey. Let's hope that Roos goes back to what he does better: writing and directing black comedy as he did so skillfully two years ago with "The Opposite of Sex," about a 16-year-old girl who runs away from home to stay with her gay half-brother, destroying his relationships. That's the kind of film with characters who are interesting, edgy, mischievous--all the elements lacking in his present offering.

Copyright 2000 Harvey Karten

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