Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Sam Peckinpah - all far greater talents than Don Roos - have been chewed and spewed by the Hollywood ogre at one point or another in their careers. But the fact that it could happen to them doesn't exactly excuse Roos for Bounce, his tame follow-up to The Opposite Of Sex. Gone are the caustic put-downs, cruel observations and cynical world-view, and in comes Ben and Gwynnie muttering such nonsense as: "When it's dark outside, it's up to us to find the light." Who knows, maybe the dive into the sick bucket was Roos' own choice - a bid to "grow" - but it's hard to shake the vision of studio suits working out the returns on their grubby calculators.
Yet it all starts so well. Affleck's is brash and belligerent, another ballsy hunk to rank alongside his Gordon Gekko-wannabe in Boiler Room, and Roos' script kicks off in customarily acerbic style. One scene is even a genuine knock-out, as the airline's horribly insincere ad cleans up at the industry awards: hankies are out, eyes are dabbed, and a sozzled, disillusioned Affleck steps up to the podium...
Then the movie bounces off in an altogether different direction, shaking itself free of barbs and originality to become your standard romance. So standard, in fact, that not even the mirroring of its stars real-life on-off partnership provides any layers of depth or bursts of authentic chemistry.
Of course, it doesn't help that Affleck continually allows you to catch him 'acting', wringing out those damn tears while gurning like a constipated sumo wrestler, and this is an emotional journey we've been on a thousand times before. Even the landmarks are familiar, right down to the classic gay confidante (Johnny Galecki). You have to wonder how Roos is ever going to bounce back from this one.
A schizoid rom-com that slowly gives in to the sappy side of its personality. A passable Paltrow and some strong opening scenes help alleviate the tedium, but once the script loses its fizz, Roos' limitations as a director suddenly leap to the fore.