Directed by: Bart Freundlich
Written by:Bart Freundlich
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha, Lynn Whitfield, Art Garfunkel, Jordan Carlos, Kelly Gould
Released: March 18, 2010
Grade: B

Put your hand up if you loved reading those Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid?  My hand is up right now.  I don’t think any of them won the Pulitzer but they were still fun.  You had a say in what the characters would do and how the story would pan out.  If you didn’t like it, you could always go back and try again!

The cinematic equivalent is being put to the Australian public this week.  There are two romantic comedies being released on the same day – The Bounty Hunter with Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston and The Rebound with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha.  They’re both going to follow traditional rom-com formulas but what’s your preference?  Which couple would you prefer to see on screen?

That same choice was presented to me this evening.  The media previews for both films were scheduled at the exact same time on the exact same date.  It couldn’t have worked out any better.  I scrutinised both trailers… and went with The Rebound.  I think Gerard Butler is overexposed and Jennifer Aniston is very hit-and-miss.  Just didn’t trust them together.

Whilst I’ll have to reserve my judgement on The Bounty Hunter until its Thursday release, I can now talk about my thoughts on The Rebound.  I’m giving it a marginal “thumbs up”.  I’m happy to report the best part is the chemistry between Zeta-Jones and Bartha.  They work well off each other and I enjoyed their playful banter.

Wait a minute.  Hold the phone.  I think I like Catherine Zeta-Jones as an actress.  This has just dawned on me.  I hated her a decade ago.  Who wouldn’t after seeing The Phantom, Entrapment and The Haunting?  Things have changed.  She’s picked some excellent roles in recent years including Traffic, Chicago, Intolerable Cruelty and No Reservations.  Justin Bartha is also a star on the rise and I remember praising his performances in the National Treasure movies.  No wonder I liked this film.

It’s the story of a forty-something mother of two named Sandy (Zeta-Jones) who has just left her husband.  Turns out he’d been fooling around with another woman.  She takes the kids and moves into a small apartment in central New York.  Working in the coffee shop downstairs is a 24-year-old named Aram (Bartha) who Sandy befriends and ropes into babysitting duties.  It turns out he’s a natural with the kids.

So where is this heading?  Will these two end up together despite the age difference?  People are certainly talking behind their backs.  There’s a funny line when Aram jokingly confronts one of them in a restaurant.  I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but I did feel let down by the ending.  There’s a rushed conflict and an equally rushed resolution.  An extra 10 minutes wouldn’t have gone astray.

I don’t want to be too harsh because I did enjoy the ride until this point.  I stick by my decision to go with The Rebound.  You can choose your own adventure as you head to the ticket counter this weekend.