"If there’s one thing that Hollywood likes to do, it’s exploit trends"

If there’s one thing that Hollywood likes to do, it’s exploit trends (hence the avalanche of vampire movies we’ve seen lately) and that’s why we’re starting to see an increasing number of May-December romances on our screens (last year’s The Proposal, the subtly-named US comedy series Cougar Town). The Rebound is a fairly forgettable female-led comedy which does nothing new with the familiar material.

Sandy (Catherine Zeta Jones) is a housewife with two kids.  After she catches her husband getting jiggy with a much younger lover, she moves to New York where she begins a career as a sports analyst.  After a disastrous date with a man of a similar age, she throws herself into her work.  But the added workload means that her babysitter Aram (Justin Bartha) must spend more time at her apartment with her kids.

From there, it’s only a quick hop into the bedroom and so begins a predictable by-the-numbers Spring-Autumn relationship with the usual jibes from family and friends alike.  

To the film’s credit it does have some decent dialogue and is occasionally very funny. But a major problem is the film’s inconsistency of tone which lurches between farce, toilet humour and romantic slush which prevents it ever from building any momentum – either narrative or comedic.

A particularly cringe-worthy scene involves Sandy’s early date, who seems charming until he decides to use a Portaloo in the street and yet still continues the conversation. While its gross-out humour is amusing, it’s difficult not to suspect that you’re suddenly watching another film.  

This isn’t helped by completely undeveloped supporting characters.  Aram’s nudge nudge, wink wink co-worker does nothing other than utter single entendre one liners – almost the equivalent of a character exclaiming “That’s what she said!” – Entirely disposable and good for nothing else.

Catherine Zeta Jones never fully convinces as a housewife either – she exudes a kind of smugness that prevents us from quite believing her character, as if she’d like to slum it but not too much lest her flawless image be tarnished.  It’s like those teen movies where the geek is almost unmasked to be a stunning beauty when she takes off her glasses and unties her ponytail.

The chemistry between Jones and Bartha is believable but nothing that threatens to set the screen alight.  A predictable confrontation with Sandy’s ex is easily dealt with and other than some mild protestations from Aram’s extremely Jewish snooty parents, there are few obstacles other than their age, which is miraculously glossed over until it becomes a dramatic necessity. Even then it doesn’t seem like a big enough deal to fret about and it says frustratingly little about May-December relationships, a vein which could have been richly mined.

As rom coms go it’s fairly inoffensive and harmless, there’s nothing that will inspire either glee or rage (other than a closing montage so saccharine that tooth decay is almost guaranteed from just watching it). But it’s so pedestrian, predictable and cheesy, it’s one that could easily be passed by with little feeling of regret.