Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dallas IFF 2013 Review: THE BOUNCEBACK - Zed's Take

Directed by: Bryan Poyser
Written by: Bryan Poyser, David Degrow Shotwell, Steven Walters
Starring: Ashley Bell, Zach Cregger, Sara Paxton, Michael Stahl-David
Synopsis: Breaking up is hard to. But recovering from the break up can be even harder.

America loves romantic comedies. When properly executed, women leave the theater hoping the actors onscreen actually fall in love. While the men leave frantically checking box scores on their phones and hoping the last two wasted hours will result in some form of coitus. The pervasion of the romantic comedy prompted eager filmmakers to make sex comedies, which appeals to guys because there was always the off chance you might catch a gratuitous boob shot.

THE BOUNCEBACK is a sex comedy of sorts. Though I would say it leans more on the comedy, than the, well… sex. The films centers on ex-couple Stan (Michael Stahl-David) and Cathy (Ashley Bell), who met in great of city of Austin, TX. We see how wonderful and loving their relationship is through flashes of Facebook photos. (Personally, I don’t use Facebook and could go on a diatribe about my dislike of the “social media” website, but that would be futile. Yet, I’m glad the director chose to use Facebook, instead of generic social media site X.) As soon as the slideshow ends, Cathy is now a grad student in New York, and Stan is floundering in Los Angeles. Oh, and both of their status' read SINGLE. But thanks to the stalker technology built-in to Facebook, Stan notices that Cathy is going to Austin for the weekend to visit Kara (Sara Paxton). Stan, living in a city full of beautiful, consensual women decides to hop a flight down to ATX to chase his an ex-girlfriend he hasn't spoken to in months. Hey, every movie needs a MacGuffin.

The film goes on autopilot for about 20 minutes, recycling every sex comedy gag like a film grad fresh out of Kevin Smith University. Jeff (Zach Cregger), Stan’s best friend and Kara’s ex, lives in Austin, too, along with two odd characters we’ll call Creep #1 and Creep #2. Jeff and the creeps smartly disagree with Stan’s plan to win back Cathy, and figures all he needs is some “strange”. I would surmise that the screenwriters just finished reading Neil Strauss’ The Game, because every line of male dialogue contains classic PUA (pick-up artist) techniques for bedding women. The Cathy/Kara scenes had their moments; especially those involving Marshall Allman (Blue Like Jazz) as Ralph, the eager beaver barfly willing to do anything for Kara's attention.

I was prepared to throw in the towel until the sex finally entered the picture. Hold on pervs, not sex sex – air sex. Jeff has been preparing tirelessly for the local air sex competition, using the nom de douche, Tyrannosaurus Sex. Air sex is exactly the way it sounds. Objective: Competitors are to simulate a sex act onstage that must involve an imaginary person, all set to music. And there has to be a climax (no wonder there were few female entrants). A quick Google search proved that air sex is an actual competition that takes place in Austin, as well as Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago.

During this incredibly long weekend, both Stan and Cathy meet other people. By this time, Cathy is aware of Stan’s presence in Austin. Here is where the movie takes a turn for the better. While we have all seen myriad breakups onscreen, THE BOUNCEBACK depicts that strange post-relationship stage where you wonder if the dust has truly settled. Zach Cregger was definitely the stand out of the cast. And reminded me that the writers on his NBC show, “Friends with Kids” aren’t using his talents effectively.

At times you could clearly see the low budget-ness of the film, but THE BOUNCEBACK ended a lot better than it began. Based on the popularity of the genre, I could see this film finding a larger audience. Even without the actual sex, THE BOUNCEBACK is a true sex comedy that tackles a subject we rarely see, but can all relate to.

THE BOUNCEBACK will be showing at the Newport Film Festival on 4/30.

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