There’s undoubtedly a sense of déjà vu in watching The Bounce Back. It does stick closely to the path Will Smith and Eva Mendes already blazed with Hitch. While it won’t win points for originality, The Bounce Back is a charming and occasionally really funny romantic comedy.
Like Hitch, The Bounce Back features a love guru finding himself drawn to a love skeptic. In this instance, Matthew Taylor (Shemar Moore) is hosting seminars and making rounds on the promotional circuit plugging his new book, The Bounce Back. Matthew insists the way to get over a lost love is to simply stop feeling miserable and moving on.
Therapist Kristin Peralta (Nadine Velazquez) isn’t buying it or Matthew’s smooth shtick pegging him as a charlatan preying on vulnerable women. Their heated debate catches the eye of a TV producer (Robinne Lee), who sees the potential for big business and better ratings pairing the two on-air. Lee’s casting is amusing as she starred in Hitch as the woman who broke Hitch’s heart. .
Naturally, the more time they spend around each other, sparks develop. Screenwriters Victor Teran, Staci Robinson and Director Youssef Delara spend so much time setting up Matthew and Kristin’s differences, that their sudden interest doesn’t feel earned.
Granted, with two alpha attractive folks like Moore and Velazquez sex appeal can be all that’s needed. Still, it would have been nice to have some genuine scenes to explain their connection besides a basic attraction.
Ironically, it’s Matthew’s interaction with his daughter, Aleya (Nadja Alaya), that provides the film’s best relationship. There’s a warmth and genuineness to those scenes that’s very charming. The film might have worked better with more focus on Matthew and Aleya and the romance with Kristin as a more of a subplot.
Most of the film’s weaker moments can be attributed to the script. Not that there’s a ton of twists in most romantic comedies, but the screenwriters stick too close to the genre script. There are no real surprises here putting a greater burden on the cast to make predictable scenes work.
To their credit, the cast is up for the challenge. Moore and Velazquez have sizzling chemistry making Matthew and Kristin’s relationship come across deeper than any particular moment set up from the script. The humor mostly works thanks to the well-timed line delivery from supporting cast members Kali Hawk and Megan Stevenson.
Bill Bellamy has a fun supporting role as Matthew’s fiercely aggressive agent. It was nice to see half of The Brothers reunite on a new project even if they don’t get enough scenes together.
Like most romantic comedies, the last act falters thanks to the cliché misunderstanding leading to a temporary break until the dramatic reconciliation. The Hitch influence once again showed up as the big scene involves a stare down and collision with a car.
The film was crowd-funded for $3 million, but the production doesn’t look like it was put together on the cheap. In a limited theatrical release, The Bounce Back performed poorly.
This is a film that would be a hard sell in theaters, but it’s one of those cable or Netflix films you stumble on and are glad you decided to give it a chance. It’s not a revolutionary romantic comedy, but it’s entertaining enough for a pleasant diversion. No need for it to bounce at all.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Viva Pictures