' ' Cinema Romantico: The Rebound

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Rebound

In “The Rebound”, released in 2009 though only just available on Netflix a couple weeks ago, Sandy (Catherine Zeta Jones) conveniently – uh, I mean, inauspiciously – catches her idiotic husband cheating on her via videotape. Now, this guy is clearly an idiot but there must have been something that drew fair Sandy to him in the first place. Perhaps for their first date he scored courtside seats for the Knicks (she’s a sports fan) and then an after-game martini at the Algonquin (because I just assume all ladies swoon over martinis at the Algonquin)? And so it seemed so perfect, so storybook, only to gradually unravel into a morass of pain in spite of which Sandy still didn’t have the courage (good sense?) to break free.

Bart Freundlich’s debut film was “The Myth of Fingerprints” (1997). It is my third favorite movie of all time. It is nowhere near universally adored and it doesn’t need to be because if everyone has a specific film that seems to be engineered just for them and no one else this one was mine. It was the equivalent of a sassy English woman taking me backstage to a Springsteen show at Madison Square Garden and then for a post-show scotch at the Algonquin. It was so perfect, so storybook, only to gradually unravel into a morass of pain in spite of which I don’t seem to have the courage (good sense?) to break free.

Freundlich’s follow-up was “World Traveler” which was barely redeemed by the incomparable Billy Crudup who consistently refused to let his asswipe of a character off the hook even though Freundlich was determined to let his asswipe of a character off the hook. “Trust The Man” felt like “Sex and the City 2” (with more males) if the characters had stayed at home rather than travel to Abu Dhabi. So why? Why after seeing those two films and why after knowing “The Rebound” had gone direct to DVD and why after knowing it sat in my unavailable queue of Netflix for over a year did I still choose to watch it? Because as Marcus Tullius Cicero once observed, “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

So Sandy packs up her two kids, Frank Jr. (Andrew Cherry) and Sadie (Kelly Gould) and they move into the City, New York. She gets a job as a sports column fact-checker but, of course, within roughly 17 days she’s writing a column. (Life is so hard!) She gets an apartment above a coffee shop which is helpful because the coffee shop doubles as the crappy job of Aram Finklestein (even Woody Allen wouldn’t name a character Aram Finkelstein!), played by Justin Barth, who has recently been dumped by his French wife who used him for a green card which leads him to ponder “the meaning of life” (oy vey!). Oddly, Sandy and Aram don’t experience their mandatory Meet Cute at the coffee shop but at a self defense class where Aram has been hired to wear a sumo suit and get the crap kicked out of him which Sandy – twist! – does when she desires to unload her frustrations on someone, anyone, in regards to her ex-husband. She asks Aram to babysit. And then become her nanny. She goes on bad dates, like with John Schneider who chooses to conduct a conversation with her from inside a kybo and then afterwards put his unwashed hands to her face (eeeeeeeew!). Eventually, as they must, Mom & Nanny start dating, and despite finding themselves in age-inappropriate situations, something potentially real possibly develops.

Quick! We need a reversal, Freundlich! Just don’t choose to go with......no, no, no, no! You wouldn’t dare you, would you?! You would?! Where’s your Reversal Cheat Sheet?! You could pick anything! ANYTHING!!! SEE THE BOX, BART!!! THINK OUTSIDE OF IT!!! WHY WON’T YOU THINK OUTSIDE OF IT???!!!!......an unplanned pregnancy. And so they break apart.

This film, of course, is firmly in rom com territory but with an underlying message that says sometimes you have to be by yourself to find yourself which, as an introvert, I can kinda dig. The problem: the characters "find themselves" via an abominable third act montage. A montage! And that's when it hit me. "World Traveler" was stuffed with montages. "Trust the Man" was stuffed with montages. "The Rebound" resolves itself with a montage. "The Myth of Fingerprints"? It had no montages. Did Freundlich not know what a montage was then? Was he so unsure of his skills he chose not to use one? Did his not having skills assist him? Did he......

Dear Bart, 

"The Myth of Fingerprints" will always have a special place in my heart more special than a great many of the special places in my heart, and that will never change. When I needed that movie, it was there. Every Tuesday before Thanksgiving, it's there. It's 15 years burning down the road and it still feels urgent and immediate. But, we're different people now. We've both moved in different directions. You want to be the male Nora Ephron. I like Sofia Coppola. I hope you continue to make movies that please your artistic vision. I hope there are people out there who respond to them. I just know I won't.



Anonymous said...

Nick, I'm always learning about these movies or actors or something/someone I've never heard of in your reviews. Definitely never heard of this film, but interesting to learn that about your third favorite film.

I kinda agree with the idea that it's almost nice to not share the same "favorite" films with everyone else because sometimes they're just meant to be loved by a couple people. Totally get that. Also, our appreciate for Elizabethtown :)

Ever since National Treasure, I like to keep an eye out for Justin Bartha, so I'm almost curious enough to see this since I have Netflix.

Nick Prigge said...

It may not be quite as bad as I made it out. It's probably more harmless than anything and Bartha and CTZ are fine in it, but I admit I was kind of grading on a curve.