The interesting behind-the-scenes story about “Bounce” — in which a man falls in love with the widow whose husband died in a plane crash that he, the suitor, was supposed to be in, too — is that stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck are a real-life ex-couple. We know they have (or at least had) chemistry in real life; will it show up onscreen, too?
The answer is yes — but unfortunately, the easy charm the two have as a couple is about all “Bounce” has going for it.
Affleck is Buddy Amaral, a cocky L.A. ad exec who relinquishes his seat on a delayed flight to airport acquaintance Greg Janello (Tony Goldwyn). When the flight crashes and everyone is killed, Buddy feel tremendous guilt, drinks a lot, and winds up in re-hab. Following the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, he seeks to make restitution, as much as possible, by checking up on Greg’s widow, Abby (Paltrow), and their two kids. What was intended as a one-time favor turns into a romance, with Buddy hiding the truth from Abby and Abby telling Buddy she’s divorced.
Writer/director Don Roos — also responsible for the bitingly funny “The Opposite of Sex” — does a complete 180 here, and not for the better. His characters are generically sainted (Abby, seeing a girl on her way to the prom with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, rushes forward to remove the offending article so the teen won’t be embarrassed), and Abby even has a husky-voiced, wise-cracking neighbor (Caroline Aaron) to confide in. The dialogue is often clunky, though Affleck and Paltrow have enough acting prowess between them to make most of it palatable, and much of the plot is not only predictable (especially if youÃ‚Â¹ve seen the trailer), but awkwardly established.
Affleck isn’t entirely convincing as a self-centered jerk, and the character is under-written in that area. But he and Paltrow have a certain amount of magic together that this romantic melodrama would have been wise to make better use of. “Bounce” is a bad title for such a moody, plodding film; “Lumber” would be a better one.
C+ (; )