The on screen Catherine Zeta Jones seems to opposite from the off screen one. While off screen she prefers 67 year old hubby Michael Douglas, on screen she prefers her 25 year old nanny. Or, at least, her character Sandy, a mother of two and recent 40 year old divorcee, does. After witnessing a video of her neighbor and her husband doing exactly what husbands and neighbors shouldn't do, she decides to move herself and her children to the city where they will start fresh. She reinvigorates her sports journalism career and meets a lost 25 year old kid who works in the coffee shop below her new apartment who ends up being more than just a lost 25 year old kid working in the coffee shop below her apartment. But is "The Rebound" worth the ninety minutes it subjects you to? Not really.
There's a lot to like about "The Rebound," available on DVD and Blu- ray Feb. 7th, to like but it ends up as more of a typical fare than it needs to be. Director Bart Freundlich (who has directed some great episodes of Showtime's "Californication") talks about how he was inspired by the New York set films about relationships by Woody Allen in an interview on the dvd, but "The Rebound" never lives up to that kind of potential. It's tame when it needs to be excessive and excessive when it needs to be tame.
Sandy (Catherine Zeta Jones) is living a typical suburban life with her two kids and husband when she stumbles across a tape of her husband cheating on her with a neighbor. After packing up the kids and heading to the city, she meets Aram (Justin Bartha) who agrees to start babysitting for her as she works late and goes on disappointing dates. As Aram becomes more and more responsible for the children, Sandy realizes she enjoys spending her late nights at home with the mature beyond his years nanny than spending them with dates who have a bad habit of talking to her while they utilize a porter potty (eh. It's the city. Who can judge...).
Sandy and Aram begin seeing eachother, but have to face a world that scoffs at the idea of their fifteen year age difference. Sandy's friends see Aram as nothing but a rebound and she becomes confused as to whether he is or isn't. Thus "The Rebound" presses forward trying desperately to be the next Woody Allen pic without the involvement of Woody Allen.
"The Rebound" had great potential. Both Zeta Jones and Bartha are talented actors and inhabit their characters well and the attraction is believable, but the film never delves into the relationship or the attraction enough for us to take it seriously when it wants to be taken seriously. The script should've taken us into Aram and Sandy's relationship further and not been so tame as to why each wants the other. The films isn't afraid to show a party they attend with excessive drinking and some drug use, but it's afraid to delve into the mental complexes these two must be feeling towards one another.
The character of Sandy is also pretty underdeveloped. Her love of sports is never really fully understood or realized by the script. It never becomes anything more than a quirk. And her ex- husband has about one scene that is ruined by horrible dialogue and unrealistic actions. "The Rebound" seems to want to get down and dirty when it comes to relationships and New York City. But, the relationship between Sandy and Aram is treated to tamely like a lesser romantic comedy with lower sights would've treated it and the only time New York City is given much of a thought is when the film feels like it's ready for a gag (usually literally). Although Freundlich does photograph the city quite well, but we know from his work on brilliant shows like "Californication" that he is capable of much more.
"The Rebound" also loses what little footing it had towards the end when it throws a too long montage towards us and tries way to hard to dig into the "meaning of it all." It feels way to lazy for a film that could've been so much more.
The only special features included are a group of interviews with everyone from Freundlich (who gives some great bits about the making of and the inspiration for the film) to the kids in the movie.
Overall, "The Rebound" is much better than most romantic comedies that get released these days which is why it's a bit of a surprise that it's skipping theaters entirely (though that is not the same curse it was years ago). But, ultimately, it can't live up to its high goals. The script falters by being far too tame and typical when dealing with an adult concept. Zeta Jones and Bartha are both great actors (as are the supporting cast) and Freundlich is one of the most under- rated directors working today, but the film can't overcome its fear of being exactly what I'm sure it originally set out to be: an intelligent and very funny take on how the right person will always show up even if we are not ready for them (especially then) and that the end of some things only mean the beginning of many others. "The Rebound" is worth a rent if you and your hubby (even if they are fifteen years younger) are looking for a cutesy tale to pass the night that isn't entirely trash, but hopefully everyone involved will give us something better in the years to come.