I’ll deny it if you ever bring it up in conversation, but the truth is, I have a pretty large obsession with romance novels. My Kindle is nearly bursting with them. It’s something about those inevitable plot points full of grand gestures and just a bit of conflict that put a smile on my face, even when the world is literally crumbling around me. Marking his first venture into producing, Shemar Moore’s newest film “The Bounce Back” felt exactly like returning to a favorite romance book.
In the film, which is loosely based on the novel “The Bounce Back Book” by Karen Salmansohn, Moore stars as relationship and self-help expert Matthew Taylor, whose newest best seller, “The Bounce Back “ boasts that getting over heartbreak is a simple as willing yourself to get over it. A divorced dad turned sexy playboy; Matthew seems to float through life on his charms and dazzling smiles as if his past and the destruction of his marriage have no bearing on whom he is today. With his best friend and manager Terry Twist (Bill Bellamy) in tow, Matthew’s life appears to be going along perfectly until a run in with clinical physiologist, Kristin Peralta (Nadine Velazquez), has him rethinking everything he thought he knew about love, intimacy, and heartache.
A career driven woman with little time for nonsense (or love), I admittedly held my breath at first, hopeful that Kristin’s character wouldn’t be reduced to a sassy Latina stereotype. Luckily, Velazquez did not disappoint. Still reeling from a devastating breakup six years prior, Kristin does not sit in her pain, but she certainly didn’t run from it either. Determined not to be made a fool of again, she‘s successful, smart and focused on her own well-being despite being jaded about love and relationships. After being pushed by her girlfriends to attend one of Matthew’s seminars on healing after a devastating breakup, sparks fly between the pair; and not in a good way. With solid counter arguments to all of his points, Kristin is unafraid to call out Matthew on his “bounce back” method. She’s also quick to point out his “lowly” life-coach status as opposed to her license and years of practicing counseling. Their sparring was full of witty comebacks and got more than one chuckle out of me. The duos public bickering swiftly captures the attention of the media, and they soon find themselves on a cross-country book tour, showcasing their opposing views.
“The Bounce Back” doesn’t break any new ground, when it comes to it’s narrative. It’s fairly predictable, hitting all of the nuts and bolts that we are all accustomed to in any romantic comedy; right down to the corny jokes delivered mostly by Bellamy’s character Terry, and Moore’s sensational six-pack abs. (You can’t have a rom-com without a decent set of abs.) However, as a romance lover, there was certainly some charm in this film. Matthew and Kristin are both people I know (and perhaps people I’ve been at one point or another in my life). Most filmgoers will also certainly relate to what it feels like to be stuck in a rut when it comes to their romantic lives. Moreover, many of us can understand the desire to move past heartbreak and pain through sheer willpower; determined to grasp on to the hope that we can no longer see.
Additionally, another major bright spot in the film was Matthew’s relationship with his 13-year old daughter, Aleya (Nadja Alaya). Watching Aleya go through the first whispering of puppy love paired with Matthew’s awkward dad moments were a great touch. Unlike many films involving single parents and their relationships with their children, Aleya isn’t simply cast to the sidelines in favor of the character arcs of the adults. She stands on her own with own voice and opinions.
While “The Bounce Back” is very similar to many romantic comedies that you’ve already seen, with its unlikely pairing and second chance themes, its charm and warmth; like that same romance novel you return to again and again makes it worth the watch. The banter and chemistry between Moore and Velazquez are enjoyable, and its universal messages about love and relationships make it a solid effort for a first time producer. If nothing else, I’m sure “Criminal Minds” fans will certainly appreciate seeing Moore and his gorgeous smile back on the big screen. I know I certainly did.
“The Bounce Back” hits theaters today, Friday, December 9th.
Writer’s Note: Nadja Alaya the young actress who plays Moore’s daughter in “The Bounce Back” has been recently diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Moore has teamed up with Children’s Miracle Network to help the 15-year old cover her medical expenses. To find out more information about how you can help Alaya and other children who are battling cancer, please visit: bouncebackforkids.org.
Trailer for “The Bounce Back” follows below:
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a Black cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami