out of 4
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Review by Harvey Karten
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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 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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