Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Bart Freundlich
Stars: catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha, Sam Robards, John Schneider, Art Garfunkle, Joanna Gleason, Andrew Cherry, Jake Cherry, Lynn Whitfield, Eliza Callahan, Kelly Gould, Kate Jennings Grant.
With a sudden rise in interest in cougar comedies (a staple of television shows like Sex And The City, Desperate Housewives and Cougartown, etc), The Rebound offers up a big screen version. Unfortunately this is a fairly routine and predictable romantic comedy about a love affair between a 40-year-old woman and her 25-year-old lover.
Sandy (Catherine Zeta Jones) is a recently divorced 40 year old mother of two, who moves into an apartment above a coffee shop in new York. There she meets Aram (played by Justin Bartha, from The Hangover, etc) a 25 year old college graduate and slacker who is working as a barrista while he tries to sort out his priorities. He is married to a French woman who wanted a Green Card, but he is too nice to ask for a divorce.
Sandy lands a job as a journalist with a cable sports network and needs some one to look after her children. Sandy asks Aram to babysit her children one evening, and the two tykes quickly take a liking to the young man. Sandy tries to date some eligible men, but finds most of those experiences debasing and uncomfortable. When she realises that she is quite attracted to Aram, it is the start of a beautiful friendship for this mismatched couple. As expected, though, the fifteen-year age difference does cause a few problems, and their relationship undergoes a few rocky patches. The film does touch upon these issues in a superficial manner.
Bart Freundlich (The Myth Of Fingerprints, etc) is also the (much younger) husband of Julianne Moore, and he seems to have drawn on his own experience for some of the more insightful moments here. However, his direction is rather pedestrian.
Zeta-Jones lights up the screen and gives her best performance since Chicago, and she is especially good in the scene where she confronts her philandering husband (Sam Robards). But she also appears uncomfortable and embarrassed in a couple of low brow scenes. Bartha has an unassuming air and a self-effacing style, but he is also a rather bland presence. A film like this depends on the chemistry between its stars to work well, and unfortunately the two leads never develop a really credible chemistry. John Schneider (best remembered from television’s The Dukes Of Hazzard) has a small role as one of Sandy’s suitors. Joanna Gleason and Art Garfunkel are wasted in thankless roles as Aram’s parents, with the latter given little to do except complain about how old he is.
The Rebound is a romantic comedy aimed at more sophisticated and mature audiences, and avoids some of the cliches of the genre. However, there is plenty of dubious toilet humour, particularly in the first half, and these crude moments seem an uncomfortable mix with the lighter touch of the central plot. And the last part of the film smacks of padding as Aram goes on an extended round the world journey to discover what he wants out of life. Apart from resembling a travelogue of some of the world’s more picturesque cities, this final act adds little overall and hints of a tacked on ending.