By Susannah Breslin | November 18, 2000

Bounce. That’s what happens to people after bad things happen. Bounce, bounce, bounce. They bounce around and try to recover themselves, and bounce towards love, and bounce away from pain. It’s like if life was a game of basketball, and if emotions were big orange basketballs. All this bouncing about, in fact, is the premise of Bounce. In Bounce, Gwenyth Paltrow is a big orange basketball, and Ben Affleck is a big orange basketball, and they bounce around with this other guy who’s a big orange basketball that’s married to the Paltrow basketball. Except then the other-guy-basketball gets landed on by an airplane. So, for two hours, Paltrow and Affleck keep bouncing around like two big basketballs on a movie screen. Needless to say, watching Bounce is like watching balls bounce. Interesting. Not, certainly not, thrilling, though, exactly, at all.
The story of Bounce is that Harvey Weinstein of Miramax wanted to conduct an experiment to find out if the off-again-on-again romantic couple of Gwenyth Paltrow, aka every girl’s favorite graduate of Spence, and Ben Affleck, aka every frat boy’s favorite keg-hog idol, were paired up as a couple in a movie, would the movie make more money? Because, honestly, if you go to see Bounce, you’re probably as interested in trying to analyze the current state of the Paltrow/Affleck love alliance as you are trying to follow the story of two strangers looking for love. Right? Or maybe that’s just the way all the girls who are supposed to be the ones seeing this movie will look at it. Regardless, the story-vehicle of Bounce that Weinstein has placed this experiment in is one heavy, heavy with coincidences.
Big-mouthed, smart-assed Buddy Amaral (Affleck) is on his flying way home to LA through Chicago’s enchanting O’Hare airport, back to his job as a “hot shot urban ad exec.” Hanging out waiting to catch his flight, he encounters not only the ever-beddable specter of Natasha Henstridge as Mimi, a girl in “Organ Development,” but also Tony Goldwyn as the ever unlucky Greg Janello. Greg, you see, is the man married to Gwenny’s Abby Janello, and he’s just trying to get home to her and their two boys for the holidays. Buddy, it’s made clear through their three-way interactions, is a stinking pig; Greg may be the author of bad plays, but he’s a good guy; Mimi, on the other hand, is a slut, who ends up in the sack with Buddy after about three minutes. In any case, the bad guy, Buddy, for some reason possibly having to do with Mimi’s breasts, ends up giving Greg his plane ticket home. Thanks, Buddy. Except then Greg’s plane does a nose-dive.
Don’t you hate it when that happens? Buddy can hardly stand the guilt. Instead of figuring out how to better sell TAG watches, he starts examining the bottom of liquor bottles; even when he wins an ad award, he just falls down afterwards. Luckily, though, he lives in LA, and so he’s quickly transported to a clinic where the chic go to dry-out. When Buddy gets out, he gets turned on to AA by his gay assistant, Seth (Johnny Galecki, who used to date Darlene on Roseanne), and figures out he has to pay for his crimes before he can move onto sainthood. So, Buddy manages to track down Abby, now a realtor, to get forgiveness, but ends up concealing his true intent and getting her some work finding a building for his firm. Then, he works his way into her pants. All the while, Abby’s ignorant as a elephant that Buddy’s the one who inadvertently sent her husband one year ago to his messy grave in the body of an aircraft.
GEE, DO YOU THINK SHE FINDS OUT WHO HE REALLY IS? If you answered yes, you win! The coincidences don’t stop either, as, in something, literally, straight out of Court TV, our good Buddy gets a chance to win Abby via back via Court TV, even though he accidentally murdered her husband. Just goes to show you, encounters with sluts in airports will always come back to haunt you but that doesn’t mean you can’t get beyond them. Blah, blah. Don’t worry, the girl-audiences this movie’s aimed at will get their happy ending. Plus, you get to watch Paltrow and Affleck roll around in the sack a little and make up your own theories why they don’t make the beast with two backs for real anymore.
In any case, the problems with Bounce extend beyond the bastardization of the religion of coincidences. Paltrow may have done this movie as a favor to Affleck–for some reason, all the actors around him are always trying to get him to act for real, they keep asserting–but she steals the show. Bounce starring Gwenny is quite a good movie–she really, really is a wonderful actress with a fabulously delicate and expressive face that’s so rare these days–but Bounce starring Affleck blows since Affleck can’t carry his own in a movie that asks him to do anything other than “party dude,” “a*****e,” or “jackass,” the whole way through it. Just as disappointing here in Bounce is the presence of Don Roos, writer/director, best known for the amazingly hilarious and witty, “The Opposite of Sex.” Bounce, unfortunately, is the opposite of “The Opposite of Sex,” heavy-handed, unbelievable, predictable, and when without Gwenyth, a not very exciting film to find oneself bouncing ultimately boredly through.

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