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THE REBOUND starring Catherine Zeta-Jones - Synopsis and Comments
THE REBOUND synopsis & comments
THE REBOUND - written by Bart Freundlich, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones
COMMENTS SUMMARY: At the level of episodic TV but without bite or edginess. This script is competently written but bland in its storyline and characterizations. And what's not bland (the saucy French ex-wife, precocious kids) is stretched past believability into silliness. THE REBOUND doesn't go over any new ground, and the older-woman/younger-man dynamic is neither thought-provoking nor thoroughly mined for humor. THE REBOUND is put together fairly well - there are no dead spots, and the ending is surprising (although there's no big reunion-kiss here, which is the whole point of the genre, isn't it?). It's ... blah.
SYNOPSIS: OPEN on a trapeze in midtown Manhattan, where a reluctant ARAM, 25, is being talked into daredevil stunts by his brand-new French wife ALICE while her ‘brother' HENRI shouts insults from the back. Aram is a bit disappointed that his wife of one week spends so much time with her ‘brother', and is shocked when Alice seems to repeat a series of anti-Jewish remarks aimed at him (whose last name is Finkelstein). CUT TO SANDY, a 40-something suburban housewife getting her two kids (SADIE and FRANK) ready for school and generally hating suburban life (the repetitious days, boredom, the other housewives). After dropping off the kids at school, she plays a bit of fantasy sports league, and then plays a DVD of Frankie's last birthday. On it, she sees her neighbor giving her husband an offscreen blow job while she's in the next room.
Alice leaves Aram after a particularly unfulfilling (for him) sexual episode, and then happily takes off with Henri, whom she glibly admits is not actually her brother. She tells him that being with him was like "just waiting for ze bus ... ze bus of death".
Sandy and the kids move into a hotel in the city. At the same time, Aram is still trying to overcome the loss of Alice. His MOTHER arranges an interview for him at the Women's Center, though he protests that his job at the coffee shop is fine. CUT TO Sandy interviewing for a job; it turns out her years playing sports fantasy games pay off. She's hired. Aram, too, is hired at the Women's Center for a mysterious job, and later at the coffee shop, Mojo, has to listen to his colleague MITCH tell him that all he needs to get over Alice is another woman. Sandy and the kids walk in, looking for the advertised loft. Aram tells her it's upstairs, offers to babysit sometime, and then Mitch takes over, liking the look of Sandy.
With a new apartment and a job, Sandy feels a bit settled and reports this to her friend DAPHNE. Daphne sets her up on a date with her chiropractor. The next day, Sandy takes a self-defense class at the Women's Center, and to Aram's everlasting embarrassment, recognizes him inside the padded suit he wears while the women practice attacking him. But relishing the emotional outlet, Sandy launches a verbal attack on her ex-husband, which Aram notes from inside the suit - and then she attacks him with her fists. Later, at the shop, Sandy sees how badly bruised Aram is, and apologizes. She gives him a cactus as a present and asks him to babysit the kids. He agrees. The date is a catastrophe (so Sandy has a bit too much to drink) but returns home to find the kids happily in bed. Sandy has a few shots, riffs on life and men, and falls into bed.
The next day, the kids come down to the stop to complain that "Mom is dead". Aram races upstairs to find Sandy terribly hung over. He takes the kids to school. She gets herself together and heads to work, only to discover that she is being promoted from fact-checker to writer. That evening, Aram tells her she definitely could be an anchor - she has the face for it. She appreciates his flatter and realizes that she and Aram share a certain comfortable vibe. Now that she'll be working longer hours, she asks Aram if he'd like to work as her ‘manny'.
CUT TO Aram trying to explain the job to his parents, who are aghast. He's a college graduate, for God's sake. Aram stands his ground.
Sandy goes out on a double-date with Daphne. She remains cold her date and Daphne realizes that she has a ‘thing' for her Nanny. Sandy maintains that Aram is more adult that their dinner
dates. Daphne catches Sandy texting Aram; she'd rather play Monopoly with him than hang out at the restaurant with her date Aram, too, tries dating, but Mitch sets him up with vapid sexpots (one charmingly named "Cinnamon").
One night Sandy works extra late. She returns home to find that Aram has warmed some dinner for her. They chat, and Sandy gives him two tickets to a Knicks game. He invites her as his ‘date' and she accepts. They have a great time, and Sandy realizes how happy she is with Aram, as opposed to the tightly wound housewife she was with Frank. They return home laughing to find FRANK, Sandy's ex, there with the kids. He wants to get back together. Sandy seems to lose the ability to talk back to him, but Aram prompts her, using the diatribe she hurled at him that day in the Women's Center. Frank is indignant, and stomps off.
For their next date, Aram and Sandy are forced to see Mitch's acting class perform. It's awful, but Sandy makes the best of it, making a highbrow statement that charms Mitch. Later, they go with his friends to a party, and Sandy doesn't feel out of place at all. Aram is clearly in love with her; he even spots Alice but refuses to linger and talk with her. He just wants to get back to Sandy. They return to Sandy's apartment, but Aram hides while Sandy pretends to babysitter Daphne that it was a ‘tedious' evening. When Sandy leaves, Aram sneaks in, and they have sex. They are interrupted mid-way through by little Frank, who wonders if Aram is peeing in his mother. The next day, Sadie wonders if they will have a baby.
CUT TO the gym, where Sandy admits the events of the night before to a surprised Daphne. Later, the family celebrates Aram's birthday at his parents' house. Aram's mother notices his obvious physical attraction to Sandy, and she is clearly threatened. Later, Sandy and Aram take the sleepy kids back to the loft, and Sandy invites him to stay the night. The next day, she invites him to meet her colleagues, and he has to make a bit of a show of ordering wine (not ginger ale) and parrying their comments about his youthfulness.
But after the dinner, Sandy panics about their relationship. She urges him to travel the world, to do exciting things, to try to make a difference in the world, the way all healthy 20-somethings should. They're in different phases, it would never work. Aram won't be put off quite so easily. They agree to take things slowly. Days later, Sandy discovers that she's pregnant. Aram is delighted, but she is frozen with fear. He soothes her and she relaxes. Days later, they go to the doctor's only to find out that the pregnancy is ectopic, and not viable. Aram is saddened, but Sandy is relieved, and she breaks up with him. CUT TO Aram saying goodbye to the kids.
Montage of both Aram and Sandy moving through their lives, lonely. Aram gets on a plane and travels around the world: to China, to India. Sandy spends New Year's with Daphne and her husband and pretends she's overjoyed. She watches her kids play sports, and she advances in her career - becoming an anchor. Years pass. Sadie graduates from middle school. Frank changes his name to "Pablo". Aram, now 30, offers a lecture on ancient Egypt to a group of schoolkids. He is popular with the kids, but uninterested in the women his age who invite him out for drinks.
One night at a Chinese restaurant, Aram and Sandy bump into each other. It's a ‘wow' moment. They quickly catch up on the last few years. Aram greets the kids. Sandy tries to apologize for
the way she broke up with him, but he knows it was all about timing. Then Aram introduces her to his son, ZEKE, a 5 year old Indian boy, and explains that Zeke was an orphan who needed a home, and Aram adopted him. Sandy is impressed. Aram and his parents join Sandy's family, and we close on the big family eating dinner together. In the final frames, we cut back to Sandy anchoring a sportdesk story with her former boss.
COMMENTS: Polished in its way, THE REBOUND never really manages to elicit much drama, and its comedy is either silly or contrived. There are moments of imagination, but not many, and the overall conflict - older woman falls for younger guy - registers as a zero in terms of their relationship until suddenly Sandy decides it's not right and breaks up with the guy on page 115.
There's something "off" about THE REBOUND. As a suburbanite, I've seen hundreds of 40-something mothers in all emotional states, and not one of them has ever, ever grabbed her crotch to make a point. I realize I must come off as hopelessly provincial, but there are certain risks to a man writing a romance featuring a woman in the lead role. First of all, the man gets to be sweet, deep, and filled with longing. The woman responds to heartache by getting drunk, groping the babysitter, spewing filth at her ex and grabbing her crotch. Aram's neediness is there, but Sandy remains a mystery: ambitious, strong, yes, but without any moment of familiar vulnerability. Add to that dialogue for kids that is not only unbelievable, unnecessarily crude, and totally off-putting, and you have a screenplay that feels fake. I can't think of a better word for it.
Freundlich's work has always struck me as too soft, too weakly conceived, and not really incisive enough for mainstream audiences, and while THE REBOUND is his most mainstream work so far, it still fails to offer much to chew on. No big ideas are suggested here, no burning need to tell this story about these characters. Overall, I consider THE REBOUND to be forgettable, and I suspect viewers will too.