The Review: The career trajectory of Catherine Zeta Jones has been an almost fairytale one. Girl from the Welsh valleys, hit British TV series, failed pop career, obscurity, then returns to conquer Hollywood with an Oscar, and a marriage to one of the biggest names in film. There was a fascination at the time with the pairing, not least because at the time, CZJ was 31 and Michael Douglas was 56. It doesn’t take a genius to see how the marketing men came up with this concept. There’s probably a more interesting movie in the concept of the life of the Hollywood actress who wins an Oscar and then finds herself condemned to a life of insipid romantic comedies, but instead we’re saddled with this.
Coming so soon after the recent French hit Heartbreaker, which managed to do so much right in both romance and comedy, it’s genuinely dispiriting to see one that gets so much so wrong. Watching this, you find your mind wandering to better examples of the genres that The Rebound encompasses – better age gap movies (Harold and Maude, for example), better overbearing Jewish parents movies, better obnoxious and troublesome kids movies, better male / female discourse on relationship movies, and so on.
But we’re not talking a midly acceptable movie whose peers best it for quality, we’re talking a painful excuse for a movie whose jugdement you find yourself calling into question at every turn. The initial set-up is poorly handled and doesn’t engage sympathy for any of the characters. There are two interviews whose purpose is to set up the characters which feel hideously unnatural because they come straight out of Exposition for Dummies, chapter one. It takes an unnecessary amount of time for our two leads to interact in any meaningful way, and the various chapters of their burgeoning romance are all slow and obvious, right up until the last act, which goes off in random and unwanted directions and seemingly doesn’t know how to resolve matters. Most of the fault must be levelled at writer / director Bart Freundlich, who’s made so many indifferent or poor movies over the years it does give you cause for concern that studios keep giving him money to spend.
The bright spots? Justin Bartha is OK, and feels sort of natural around the kids, and might do better with decent material, and… well, that’s about it. Catherine Zeta Jones isn’t likeable or sympathetic, the supporting cast get nothing interesting to do, the score is incredibly poor and kills some scenes stone dead, there’s maybe one scene that will linger in the memory after you’ve seen it, the movie has nothing interesting to say about any of the concepts it raises, and there’s scant believability in the passage of time that the movie portrays, which also serves to rob you of whatever emotional investment you had left in the final scenes. Hopefully whatever movie you see on the rebound from this one will be better – it would be hard for it not to be.
Why see it at the cinema: My excuses – I had three hours to kill before The A Team and nothing better to be doing (or so I thought), and I also made comment about CZJ’s face in an earlier blog. I can report that it does look someone’s put a bulldog clip on the back of her head and pulled her skin taught – she shows no facial movement that would be able to be recognised as emotion, which just doesn’t help the movie on top of all its other faults. I had pretty poor reasons, when it comes down to it, and I was the only person in my screening. Hopefully there will be one less at as many as possible of the remainder.
The Score: 2/10