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Father, author and relationship expert, Matthew Taylor is on a whirlwind book tour promoting his new best seller, The Bounce Back. He's got it all figured out until he meets the acerbic Kristin Peralta, a talk show circuit therapist who's convinced he's nothing but a charlatan. Matthew's life is turned upside down when he inadvertently falls for Kristin and has to face a painful truth of his past relationship.
I was wrong. When I included "The Bounce Back" (PG-13, 1:44) in the "Movie Fan Community" Facebook Page's "Wait for It Wednesday" post with the weekend's other nationwide releases, I referred to this film as a "romantic comedy-drama". It's not very accurate to imply that it's a rom-com. It's really more of a drama, without much comedy in it. I was also wrong in our "Throwback Thursday" post in which I related this movie to a "Retro Reel Review" of "Ride Along", referring to "The Bounce Back" as having a "mostly African-American cast". Actually, this cast is very ethnically diverse and, more importantly, the film almost completely ignores race and racial differences. Very refreshing for a bi-racial romance! Shemar Moore plays Matthew Taylor, a self-help relationship guru who has written the book of the film's title. He's confident, charismatic and, as one character says, "He's gorgeous". As the movie opens, with Terry Twist (Bill Bellamy), Matthew's agent and best friend at his side, he is busy promoting his book on local TV talk shows and conducting seminars in which he explains the principles in his book to rooms full of lovelorn women. He advises the women that the best way to get past heartache is to pretend the past doesn't exist, identify the future they want for themselves and focus on their goals.
It's a message that clinical psychologist Kristin Peralta (Nadine Velazquez) thinks is naïve and uninformed – and she isn't shy about sharing her opinions. When her girlfriends (Megan Stevenson and Robinne Lee) take her on a weekend getaway that ends up involving attendance at one of Matthew's seminars, she tells him exactly what she thinks of him – in public. This leads to a joint talk show appearance which makes for great TV and leads to other offers for them to appear together. As the two of them spend more time together, since this IS a romance, they develop feelings for each other.
But both Matthew and Kristin bring their emotional baggage on their travels – and into their relationship. Matthew wrote his book as a way to get past his divorce, but it's obvious that he may not have moved on as completely as he thinks he has. His frequent visits with his daughter, Aleya (Nadja Alaya), keep him grounded, but he's still romantically closed-off. Likewise, Kristin has had her heart broken, but she has been a little less successful at moving on with her life as Matthew has. Meanwhile, Terry has to deal with his dislike for Kristin, as he develops a love-hate relationship with a TV producer.
"The Bounce Back" is a typical romance in some ways, and very different in others. Its story is uninspired and will remind Movie Fans of similar (and better) movies like "The Perfect Match" (2016), "The Ugly Truth" (2009) and "You've Got Mail" (1998). The script, by Victor Teran, Staci Robinson and Youssef Delara (who also directs), is mostly dull and lifeless and settles for characters who are as much cardboard cut-outs as those of Matthew, which appear in bookstores throughout the film. Delara's direction is lazy, which is especially apparent during the obligatory romantic montage which isn't much more than Matthew randomly pointing at stuff in Times Square. There's also a lack of realism in the casting which seems like simply a Parade of the Pretty People. Where the film does deserve credit is during its third act which is pleasingly romantic – and extra credit for its post-racial approach to relationships. Also, the performances of Bellamy and Alaya are very good. But those things aren't quite enough to warrant my recommendation. If you see this film and are disappointed, don't worry, you'll bounce back. If you see it and decide I'm wrong about my criticisms, that's okay. I know how to bounce back too. (Bounce back too – NOT Bounce Back Two. I don't want to give producers any ideas.) "C+"
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