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Buddy Amarel seems to be living the American dream. As a successful advertising salesman, he travels the country doing business and fraternizing with beautiful women. But his world comes to a grinding halt after he meets Greg Janello at O’Hare airport in Chicago. Greg’s flight has been delayed until the next day, and so on a whim, Buddy gives Greg his plane ticket. Buddy wants to spend the night with a newfound female companion; Greg wants to get home to his family. Two hours later, the ill-fated flight goes down in flames.
Tortured by feelings of guilt and helplessness over Greg’s death, Buddy turns to alcohol to drown his sorrows. It doesn’t work. Months later, Buddy’s personal demons drive him to search for Greg’s widow, Abby. Compelled to help her fledgling real estate venture, he throws her a big contract. She, of course, has no idea who he is and why he would lend her a hand. But business soon turns into pleasure, and their budding relationship begins to bloom.
positive elements: After telling a series of lies, Abby comes clean and shows remorse for her lapses in judgement. Buddy also gets caught in his own web of lies that overpowers him before he realizes that telling the truth is the best option. Both Abby and Buddy follow wise counsel from their friends. Abby talks with others about the pain of losing her husband, working out her grief rather than letting it destroy her. Demonstrating her bravery, she musters up the courage to provide for her family amidst the tragedy of Greg’s death. Sure, she’s scared to death, but it’s like Buddy tells her, "You’re not brave unless you’re scared." Abby’s emotions and actions during this time show the harsh, painful reality of losing a spouse (a subject the filmmakers don’t gloss over).
Buddy’s boss checks him into a rehab center when alcohol abuse begins affecting his performance at work. When he comes out of rehab, Buddy takes all his liquor and pours it down the drain, symbolizing his resolve to stay clean. Although he struggles, he manages to stay off the bottle.
Buddy sacrifices his time and resources to assist Abby. In return, she invites him to a baseball game and graciously thanks him. Abby enjoys spending time with her two sons and looks out for their best interests. Buddy also cares deeply for the boys.
spiritual content: Buddy declares to his assistant, Seth, that he doesn’t "believe in God." Seth facetiously assures him that God will be shocked to find this out.
sexual content: Buddy wakes up in bed with the woman he met the night before in the airport bar. Abby and Buddy share a couple of passionate kisses. A deep conversation between Buddy and Abby develops into an afternoon of sexual indulgence (they help each other undress and then end up between the sheets). A few ladies wear low-cut outfits.
Professing to be gay, Seth asks Buddy not to stare at him in a restroom because he doesn’t like being sexually harassed. Later on, Buddy cracks a joke about Seth’s homosexuality.
violent content: Minimal. TV news coverage shows the billowing fire from the fatal plane crash. A Rottweiler knocks Buddy over and tears his clothes. Abby’s young sons wrestle playfully.
crude or profane language: God’s name is abused nearly 20 times. The s-word pops up eight times. And Buddy uses the f-word once.
drug and alcohol content: Buddy consumes great quantities of alcohol at social gatherings and in private until he goes through a rehabilitation program. After realizing he is an alcoholic, Buddy says, "Alcohol is a disease. I can’t control it." But with the help of a friend he begins taking responsibility for his problem and abstains from drinking. Other characters drink at bars, parties and restaurants.
Abby smokes in several scenes. Apparently, she picked up the habit in an attempt to curb her addiction to nicotine gum which she started chewing to calm her nerves. When she tells Buddy, he jokes that the next drug she might try is heroine.
other negative elements: Buddy and Abby tell lies trying to hide their pain. They twist the truth—even when they’re trying to help others—hoping the ends will justify the means. While some of the deceptions lead them to repent and provide viewers with positive messages, others are just a way of life for Buddy and Abby. In one exchange, Buddy tries to minimize the importance of honesty by reassuring Abby, "You didn’t lie, you just didn’t tell the whole truth." Impressionable teens could find themselves sympathizing.
conclusion: Bounce tells the same kind of intricate and sentimental story of a widowed spouse coping with life found earlier this year in Return to Me. The film exhibits noble intentions and provides valuable lessons about substance abuse, integrity and relationships. At times, Buddy and Abby exude heartfelt emotion as they work through their problems to develop a deep bond. But a number of dialogue-driven scenes between the two could have been more compelling and seem dry and scripted. It may be that the real-life on-again-off-again romance of Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow hindered their work on-screen. "Affleck and Paltrow flunk Chemistry 101. They aren’t believable even as a fake couple," quipped Susan Wloszczyna, a film critic for USA Today.
Teens looking for a story about innocent love and romance will instead find a tale that flirts long and hard with doing the wrong things for the right reasons. Add skewed sexual ethics to the mix and you have a recipe for compromised values that many families will decide to avoid.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Ben Affleck as Buddy Amarel; Gwyneth Paltrow as Abby Janello; Joe Morton as Jim; Jennifer Grey as Mrs. Guererro; Tony Goldwyn as Greg Janello; Johnny Galecki as Seth
Don Roos ( )