Catherine Zeta-Jones stars opposite fresh-faced Jason Bartha in 2010’s rather sedated The Rebound. Having seen her husband have an adulterous fumble when piecing together her son’s birthday video, 40-something Sandy (Zeta-Jones) ups and leaves her comfortable suburban life to live in New York with her two children. Instantly finding herself a dream job, her new life seems to be going perfectly (despite the odd mishap) until she finds herself spending more and more time with the 24 year-old nanny…
Writer and director Bart Freundlich provides a likeable film with The Rebound but anyone wanting a fresh twist on the old rom-com formula may be a little disappointed. Although it offers differing spins on the break-up process (Zeta-Jones opting for a sassy get-over-it attitude whereas Bartha offers a rather more sappy portrayal of a jilted husband) along with a refreshingly witty (if not a little too knowing) younger cast many of the genre’s stereotypes are here and whenever the film tries to overcome such convention it sways too far in the other direction. Such over-compensation sometimes reduces the film’s chemistry, alienating the film’s core from its audience.
Despite its flaws the film still features some enjoyable scenes including one where Sandy’s children think she’s dead after a night of heavy drinking whilst her text updates from Aram (Bartha) allows for the gem; ‘Frank took two foot poop. We measured’. Refreshingly we don’t see the break-up that becomes the crux of the film (and causes the deep-set pain that Zeta-Jones battles throughout) but we do, rather awkwardly, join her as she tries to re-enter the dating scene – one particularly excruciating moment involving talking to a potential boyfriend from the other side of his porta-loo cubicle. Perhaps not quite keeper material.
The fifteen year age difference between Sandy and Aram causes inevitable friction which is bought to a head when pregnancy punctures their illusions of having a perfect relationship. Cue a (rather laborious) sad montage of them trying to lead lives without each other that leads to a rather convenient ending. Although filmed nicely and being populated with likeable characters, The Rebound lacks vital chemistry whilst Aram’s 25 year-old self is made out to be overly needy. His standing up to Sandy’s ex when words fail her fails to achieve the gallant chivalry it aspires to and could instead provide feminists with enough fodder for a small field day.
Although some of the comedy tries a little too hard and relies heavily on Zeta-Jones’s exaggerated facial reactions the simple graphics and light soundtrack are pleasant enough despite being a rather undemanding watch. All the dots from your average rom-com are present and are linked together by Zeta-Jones’s likeable, if not wholly original, Sandy.
Best performance: Catherine Zeta-Jones.