Bounce
(2000)











Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 Hour and 46 Minutes


Reviewer: Jones
Grade: D

Just when I thought I could forget about "Ghost" along comes a movie like "Bounce" that brings all the memories flooding back of why I once grew so tired of films laced with romance. That is until I saw wonderful little films like "Notting Hill" and "The Story of Us" which reminded me of what these movies could be if they actually tried.

This is not to say that "Ghost" was a bad film. Not by any means. I actually remember enjoying it the first couple of times I saw it. The problem was that a couple of times wasn't enough for my mom. This movie picked up for her where "Dirty Dancing" and "Steel Magnolias" left off. Just the mention of those films sends shivers down my spine. Not that they are bad either, but after I saw them fifteen times a week for months on end I began to get a little jaded. Instead of feeling sad when misfortunes befall the occupants of these films I chose to cheer. Rooting for death and damnation at every opportunity. It just felt like the right thing to do under the circumstances. Tell me I'm not alone on this one. I know there are others out there who have been through the "chick flick" gauntlet much the same as I. This whole paragraph sounds like the basis for an essay in the future. I just may have to do that, but for now I suppose I should discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of the film "Bounce".

Why I even bothered to watch a movie starring both Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow in the first place is beyond me. Anyone who knows me knows that I have little room in my heart for either of these, ahem, actors. I have liked them on a couple of occasions in their respective careers. Ben was quality in "Mallrats" and his performance in "Reindeer Games" is not to be missed. As for Gwyneth, I enjoyed her performance in "Seven" and felt that she did a fine job in the much overlooked romantic comedy "Sliding Doors". Notice how I have done nothing but mention movies other than the one that I am reviewing so far? That's because I would much rather watch or review one of those movies rather than have to deal with "Bounce" anymore, but the trip has already begun so I might as well complete it.

In what has to be one of the most contrived plots of the year 2000, "Bounce" centers around Buddy Amaral (You want contrived, you got it.) played by Affleck and Abby Janello (How did they come up with these names?) portrayed by Paltrow. Buddy is an ad executive on his way home when, in a gesture of Christmas spirit, he swaps tickets with Greg Janello (Tony Goldwyn) and oh my goodness the plane crashes and Greg is toast. Buddy now has to deal with the fact that he should be dead and feels that he has to somehow make amends. After enough time has passed, he contacts Greg's real estate selling widow Abby, not disclosing who he is of course, and tries to make things better for her. He does this by landing her a real estate deal that will net her a nice commission, which will hopefully allow her to better provide for herself and her children. Awwww. Isn't that nice of Buddy? Of course it does not end there. Before it can end we have to become mired in sap in the form of the inevitable romance that develops between the two. As the movie drug on, the only thing I could think was: "Will Buddy make his way into her pants before she finds out who he really is?" When I find myself asking myself questions like this in a serious manner, I know that I am watching a film that is in trouble. A better film would either not allow that question to arise, or treat it as a joke when it did come up.

The only other thing that popped into my head during the course of this film was to think of poor Tony Goldwyn. How does he keep getting involved in these dead husband movies? First "Ghost" and now this. Obviously, this is how I first made the connection between the two films, but then I started analyzing the two and found that they use the same basic premise to cater to different levels of emotion. "Ghost" was the sad, weepy movie and "Bounce" is supposed to be the happy, uplifting movie. Both have dead husbands whose collective demise was brought about by the character who attempts to woo the wife once the husband is out of the way. The wife finds out about her husband's demise. Don't even try to say I ruined that for you either, because it always happens in movies of this ilk. "Bounce" does not include Whoopi Goldberg, however, so for most of the public that is a plus in favor of this otherwise negatively endowed film. In the above comparison between "Ghost" and "Bounce" the difference between the two is that "Ghost" did those things well, whereas "Bounce" barely even tried to make them passable. "Ghost" made me forget that I was watching actors. It made me care about the people whose stories it had to tell. It made me loathe certain characters and allowed me to be enchanted by others. "Bounce"? Well "Bounce" did not make me care for it's characters. I don't know if I ever truly thought of Ben and Gwyneth as Buddy and Abby. No, I pretty much always thought of them as Ben and Gwyneth and that my friends is not going to win any points in my book.

Sure "Ghost" was sappy and maybe even a little manipulative, but what it did was tell a genuinely interesting story that reached for the heart of it's viewers. More often than not it found it. I know it did in my case. "Bounce" is just plain sappy. It makes you feel like you are drowning in pretentiousness to the point that you become encased in sap, much the same as those mosquitoes from "Jurassic Park".

So if you're looking for a good Tony Goldwyn movie that deals with dead husbands, or you just want an enjoyable night watching a romantically entangled movie then do NOT watch "Bounce". Watch "Ghost" instead. Yes, I know it has Patrick Swayze in it, but just trust me on this one.