Last year, a film called (500) Days of Summer found its way onto cinema screens. It was a refreshing, honest, stylistic take on the romantic comedy genre, both innovative and modern.
Now comes The Rebound, a new rom-com starring Catherine Zeta Jones. The Rebound likes to think it is refreshing and honest. It sees itself as modern, as being something different in the rom-com market. But it isn’t. It’s a confused, lazy and unfunny mess.
It’s telling of the so-called ‘comedy’ that the funniest thing about the film is the irony of Catherine Zeta Jones dating somebody who is actually 20 years younger than her.
Sandy is a 40-something stay-at-home mother living in the suburbs of New York. When she realises her husband is cheating on her, she promptly ups and leaves, taking the children with her. Setting herself up in the Big City, she quickly gets a decent job at a sports news station and an apartment (what, no recession?), complete with a cute guy in his 20s who works in the coffee shop below. Said cute guy, Aram, ends up babysitting for Sandy’s kids, and then...
Well, you can guess what happens from there.
Catherine Zeta Jones is serviceable enough in her role, though she is fairly bland throughout. However, Justin Bartha, playing Aram, is dreadfully one-note, with all his lines delivered in the same monotonous drawl. His part could have been played to similar effect by a robot, or Spock. No emotion necessary.
Then there’s the problem of the jokes. Simply put, The Rebound just isn’t very funny. There are a couple of smiles and the odd chuckle, but nothing close enough to constitute a laugh.
The film veers wildly in tone, with several moments of averagely-done serious drama, punctuated by odd gross-out gags. Most of the jokes are completely random, deriving neither from plot or character, and seemingly tacked on. Those that are character driven aren’t funny, including a cringe-worthy scene in a Women’s Center. A woman beating up a man dressed as a sumo-wrestler? Not particularly amusing. The worst part is that, in context, this could have been a genuinely dramatic and emotional moment.
Halfway through, the jokes run out, and the film becomes more of a straight middle-of-the-road drama. And whilst that means it’s a slight improvement on what’s come before, it’s too little too late.
The ending of the film also presents a problem, with the very last seconds contradicting the 15 minutes which precede it. With events moving back to a more realistic area in this section, though providing none of the emotional heft that it thinks it does, the final shots return to the fantastical romantic ideal that it seemed to have left behind, which just left me thinking: what was the point?
To watch a truly modern and innovative romance, do yourself a favour and spend your £7 on a copy of (500) Days of Summer or Once instead of this mess.
Entertainment Value: 2/5
Genre Value: 2/5
Overall Rating: 2/5