Of late I have been watching a slew of “old” movies. Some have been good (despite dated filmmaking); others proved me right in having steered clear of them. The reasons for that are varying but one that was most prominent was certain content in movies that usually ruins the good in movies, the other being some of them were old enough that my mom didn’t want me to see the title at its release. This wasn’t one I sat down to watch on ClearPlay, but I did find myself having one evening when I didn’t have to consider what everyone once else wanted to watch, and since I was in the mood for something new and never has watched this one (even though I have an old VHS copy of it!), I decided to go the old-fashioned route and pop it into a… VHS player! (Yikes! That sounds really outdated.)
Buddy Amarel (Ben Affleck) lives a life of luxury – and that is how he intends to keep things. He is successful in his advertising business and enjoys the nationwide traveling perks that come with that. While awaiting his flight at O’Hare, he meets Greg – a family man whose only wish is to make it home to his wife and two small children, the only problem is, weather-related cancellations and Greg is on a layover. Wanting to spend the evening with his latest tall beauty, Buddy offers to switch tickets when the weather improves, putting Greg on his evening flight and leaving Buddy to take a later flight. Everything is set and it seems a benefit to both strangers. The following morning Buddy learns of the terrible accident… the fiery crash that brought down the passenger plane… killing everyone on board.
Instead of dealing with his guilt, Buddy loses himself in alcohol for a good year before he begins a quest to find Greg’s widow – Abby (Gwenyth Paltrow). He promises himself he is going to ease his guilt by meeting her and possibly helping her. When he finds Abby, she is struggling with the burdens of being a single mom and balancing a real estate job – all while telling people that her husband divorced her because it is easier than the truth. Buddy gives her financial assistance from a business transaction but the more he knows of Abby, the more he wants to befriend the widow of the man he all but murdered. It’s the one secret he’s guarded closely… and the one thing Abby knows nothing of.
Going into this one, I really wanted to like it but instead I came away with feelings of meritocracy. Logically I know it is because of my uncomplimentary thoughts about nineties and early millennium era filmmaking. Now some ten years later, it is so outdated that it’s painful. From the picture quality to the clothes (particularly those that Abby wears), everything is almost laughable. I expect average productions from the forties and fifties – purely from lack of modern technology but to watch something from my own generation that comes across as wanting is just… weird. Having said that… Bounce does offer its audience a tender story about loss and healing.
For two characters in a story, Buddy and Abby are likable. They develop a sweet friendship that starts out more awkward than promising (realistic on her part and understandable on his) but the fact that their entire relationship is based off dishonesty makes it a little bit harder to root for their eventual romance. Buddy’s guilt and feelings of responsibility were not meant to extend as far as they did with Abby but he finds himself drawn to her, and she in turn finds she cannot just write off what she sees as a “chance meeting” with this man she barely knows. The movie doesn’t focus enough time on the budding relationship between them to make it come across as possible that what eventually drives them apart would hurt as much as it does – it didn’t seem like their relationship should have progressed to that kind of love. Bounce isn’t likely to become my favorite romance story by any means but it has a few sweet spots (like a scene at the water park), and given time and subsequent viewings I think it will be one I may come to appreciate more.
(The film is rated PG13 for one sensual scene of two people caressing one another in a state of undress and kissing, and one unfortunate use of the f-word. There is also the implication that one character has engaged in multiple one-night stands [we see him lying in bed with a woman once, sheets appropriately placed]. Milder uses of profanity are also present.)