out of Five
Running time: 95
Watchable romantic comedy, enlivened by good dialogue, strong performances and likeable characters, though it occasionally struggles to find the right tone and is let down by a hideously contrived ending.
What's it all about?
Directed by Bart Freundlich, The Rebound stars Catherine Zeta-Jones as 40-year-old Sandy, who takes her two kids (Kelly Gould and Andrew Cherry) and moves to Manhattan after catching her husband (Sam Robards) cheating on her with a neighbour. Moving into a flat above a coffee shop, she soon makes friends with kind-hearted, recently-divorced 25-year-old barista Aram (Justin Bartha), who's happy to watch the kids while she hits the dating scene.
However, after one disastrous date too many, Sandy comes home and throws herself at Aram and the pair start to wonder if they have a chance at a real relationship. But will the -gasp!- 15 year age gap prove too much of a problem?
Catherine Zeta-Jones is excellent as Sandy, delivering a likeable performance that, unusually for a female-led romcom, doesn't rely on prat-falling for once (take note, Isla Fisher and yes, you too, Sandra Bullock). Justin Bartha is equally good and he has strong chemistry with Zeta-Jones as well as a believable and sweet-natured relationship with the two children. In addition, the dialogue is above average for this sort of thing and there's strong support from Kate Jennings Grant as Sandy's best friend Daphne.
The tag-line for The Rebound reads “She's still got it. He's just getting it”, which is somewhat unfair on Bartha's character, since, if anything, he's the serious one. The main problem with the film is that it occasionally struggles to find the right tone – for example, Sandy's date with a toilet-obsessed John Schneider, while funny, seems to belong in a different film.
Similarly, the 15 year age gap never feels like too much of an obstacle, so the rather panicky finale (featuring, SPOILER ALERT, a five year montage that actually seems to last five years) seems hideously contrived, bending over backwards to convince you that it's okay for them to be together and descending into pointless sentimentality as a result.
Ultimately, the likeable performances and sharp dialogue ensure that there's enough decent material in The Rebound to outweigh the occasional mis-step and the bungled finale. Worth seeing.