You’ve got to be a little bit suspicious when a movie you’ve never heard of featuring well known stars above and below the title makes an appearance on home video. Such a movie is Bart Freundlich’s The Rebound. Filled with attractive people with nothing particularly interesting to say or do, the movie is a complete misfire buoyed only momentarily by the chemistry which exists between some of its players. No, there is nothing going on between stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha, but Justin has a lovely working relationship with the screen children under his character’s care.
The Rebound (Blu-ray)
Directed by Bart Freundlich
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Review Date: February 8, 2012
After a devastating separation from her cheating husband (Sam Robards), Sandy (Catherine Zeta-Jones) lands herself a job writing sports copy at a national news network, her first full-time job in many years. With two young children (Andrew Cherry, Kelly Gould) that need looking after, however, Sandy calls on coffee shop clerk Aram Finkelstein (Justin Bartha), college educated but drifting in and out of jobs trying to find something in life to become passionate about, to become her “manny,” a job he really takes to. After enduring a series of terrible dates with men her own age, Sandy realizes the person she’s most attracted to is Aram who’s fifteen years her junior. Aram returns the feelings, and they embark on a serious relationship despite slightly negative vibes from Aram’s controlling, judgmental parents (Joanna Gleason, Art Garfunkel) and Sandy’s work colleagues.
Writer-director Bart Freundlich’s script tries to punch up the laugh quotient with some slapstick routines (Sandy’s second meeting with Aram is in a woman’s combat class where Aram is moonlighting as the attack dummy, her dreamy date is a chiropractor who ridiculously begins massaging her in a swank restaurant) and lots of gross-out humor (Sandy’s scatologically-inclined date played by a game John Schneider, the kids who find barfing hilarious), but it all seems deadly desperate and horrifically unfunny. Apart from his two leads, Freundlich has peopled his script with the most unpleasant, tactless people imaginable. Without caring one second about anyone’s feelings or sensitivities, these alleged “friends” blurt out their feelings without regard to any embarrassment they might cause the person the comments are directed toward or the person who cares about that character. Who in the real world would be friends with such insensitive, uncaring people? Rather than being funny, this negativity just gives the movie a mean-spirited tone that works against any laughs that might have been generated. And, true to romantic comedy traditions, there’s a third act break-up that feels as artificial as everything else in the picture. The five year gap between that and the film’s coda is filled with some beautiful montages of successes each character makes in his life, but the ending again rings false when characters we have seen before react differently to the couple just so we can have a rosy ending.
In comedies, Catherine Zeta-Jones finds her strength when the material is fiercely emotional (see Intolerable Cruelty or America’s Sweetheart); she’s rather wan in something meant to be as frothy as this film. Justin Bartha is sweet and unassuming as the struggling Aram, and all of his scenes with the children are touching, by far the best things in the movie, but his relationship with Zeta-Jones is spark-free and uninteresting. Kelly Gould and the Cherry twins Andrew and Jake who portray the children are possessed with typical movie precociousness: fairly entertaining on the screen but you’d never want them for your own children. Joanna Gleason comes on too strong as Aram’s mother while Art Garfunkel plays the rather innocuous father quietly and well.
The film has been framed at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Color saturation levels are nicely sustained throughout, but the film is never quite as sharp as one would expect it to be, and there’s not a ton of detail to be seen even in close-ups. Black levels are fine but nothing extraordinary. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix follows the usual pattern for romantic comedies with a mostly frontcentric soundstage apart from the music score by Clint Mansell which gets channeled through the fronts and rears. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel. There is next to nothing for the LFE channel to do in this mix.
A series of cast and crew interviews can be watched individually or in one 24 ½-minute grouping. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ interview is the longest individual one, but she mostly talks about the plot of the movie. The other interviews are director Bart Freundlich, Art Garfunkel, Justin Bartha, Joanna Gleason, and Kelly Gould and Andrew Cherry. These interviews are presented in 1080p.
There are promo trailers in 1080p for Mama I Want to Sing and In Time.
2/5 (not an average)
Produced in 2009 and dribbled out to various film festivals and small scale releases for the last two years, Bart Freundlich’s The Rebound is a romantic comedy that doesn’t have much romance or humor at its core. The actors try hard to make something out of the limited material they’re working with, but the film is really a missed opportunity for all concerned.