This review was originally published on March 16, 2013, and referenced the original title of The Bounceback; Review has been edited to reflect the title change…
Stan (Michael Stahl-David) lives on the west coast and Cathy (Ashley Bell) on the east coast. At one point in their somewhat recent pasts, they both lived in Austin. While in Austin, they shared a really intense love for each other, but eventually grew apart. In other words, life got in the way. Their friends and happiness remained in Austin, as the two of them traveled to opposite coasts for work.
When Stan notices a Facebook post that Cathy is planning a trip to Austin, he decides to tempt fate and fly to Austin as well. Before Stan has a chance to track down Cathy, he runs into Kara (Sara Paxton) at the Austin airport. It quickly becomes apparent that she is quite intent on keeping the two ex-lovers as far apart as possible. Kara does not want her best friend to get hurt by Stan again and it seems Stan’s best friend Jeff (Zach Cregger) – who is also Kara’s ex – does not want Stan to track down Cathy either. No matter how much Stan and Cathy want to see each other, Kara and Jeff are going to make sure that never happens. That seems to be Stan’s punishment for stalking Cathy on Facebook and playing with his romantic destiny. If they are meant to be, Cathy and Stan will probably meet under much less contrived circumstances.
Bryan Poyser’s Love & Air Sex navigates the dreaded (at least for people like me) rom-com genre but makes it totally his own. The standard character types are represented, but Poyser gives them much more depth and reason than we have grown accustomed to with Hollywood rom-coms. Sure, some of the dialogue could easily be categorized as broad comedy, but it is cleverly written and delivered with a high level of realism. Their motivations and actions seem perfectly sincere and natural, not contrived for greater dramatic or comedic effect.
We have seen the story of two former-lovers brought back together, whether it be accidentally or purposefully, many times before; but Poyser presents us with the complete opposite of those films, one in which the two former-lovers may actually never meet, thanks to the constant intervention of their best friends. Poyser is intent on having Cathy and Stan fall in love naturally, not forcibly, and maybe not with each other. This is a story that Hollywood assumes audiences do not want to see. This is a film made by someone who shares with me a strong disdain for the Hollywood rom-com genre, so Poyser has reinvented it with a more palatable and artful approach. I find it quite admirable that Poyser didn’t take the lazy way out and just make a satire, instead he seeks to make the once respectable genre respectable again.
The sexual content gets a bit vulgar at times, but by using air sex to simulate graphically perverse acts, Poyser escapes the trappings of ever getting too sexually explicit. Poyser’s oh-so-frank approach to sexuality goes much further than any Hollywood movie I have ever seen; but it is mimed, so it seems innocent and playful. Let’s just say that I will never look at a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex the same way, ever again.
Love & Air Sex also functions as a loving homage to Poyser’s hometown of Austin. In addition to air sex, Poyser finds the most quintessentially Austin people, places and things to represent onscreen. There is a very good reason that talented filmmakers like Poyser have remained in Austin, rather than flocking to Los Angeles or New York City, and I think Love & Air Sex justifies their decision to stay. There is a certain carefree attitude in Austin that supports the growth of love, friendship and happiness, it is also that very same carefree attitude that has led to the success of air sex competitions.