Monday, June 21, 2010

EIFF Premiere: "The Rebound" (2009)

The last time we've seen Catherine Zeta-Jones on the big screen was in the 2007 romantic comedy with Aaron Eckhart, "No Reservations." But, let's be honest, the last time anybody really saw her was back in 2003 or 2004 with "Intolerable Cruelty" or "The Terminal." And so, simply that her first uttered word in this latest film is "fuck" I found to be a welcomed return.

From writer and director Bart Freundlich ("Trust the Man," "Catch That Kid"), Zeta-Jones is put to good use in this old-fashioned, cliché-riddled romantic comedy, "The Rebound," that, in spite of being those things, turns out to be both romantic and funny, a rarity these days.

While putting together a family home movie, Sandy (Catherine Zeta-Jones) comes across a clip of her husband fooling around with another woman. Without any hesitation, she flees the suburbs with her two kids and moves into the heart of New York City. Before she knows it, she's landed herself an apartment to live in and a new job as a fact checker for a sports network. You see, Sandy is an unconventional 40-year-old woman divorcée with kids: she's independent, not afraid to move on and likes sports!

Enter the humbled coffee shop guy who still lives at home with his parents and doesn't really have a direction in life. It's OK, though, he's still attractive. His name is Aram (Justin Bartha last seen in "The Hangover"), and his big run-in with Sandy happens at a self-defense class at the women's center. Hired there briefly to work, Aram suits up as the dummy to take the beatings, and Sandy consequently takes her rage toward her husband out on him. She later apologizes to Aram, and from there casually asks him to watch her kids. Soon the 25-year-old Haram gets hired as her official nanny, and well, that means they get to spend a little more time getting to know each other.

You know the drill from here. Interesting, though, is how the movie plays around with the age difference of the couple. While pointing out the obvious, it's also sometimes surprisingly insightful on how age could not even be much of a barrier. The movie is refreshingly R-rated, too, not shying away from vulgarities and gross-out humor. Sandy's daughter has a fascination with dead things and vomiting while at one point Aram's father talks about his operation that'll give him a new asshole, and Sandy goes out on a first date from hell where the guy carries on a conversation while taking care of business in a porta-john.

While Sandy and Aram's relationship cruises along nicely, the inevitable conflict that comes along feels forced, and the way-too-long montage of revelation and personal self-discovery that follows was the lazy way to finish their story together. The first part of "The Rebound," however, is just fine as an entry into the genre. It looks good and has two good-looking star leads with charming chemistry.

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