There’s an elephant running through 80-minutes of Bounce. No, not a literal one, although that would be awesome to see Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow pull off serious drama with an elephant situated in frame. This is of the metaphorical type, wherein Buddy (Affleck) holds a life changing secret that could break his new found love.
In other words, it’s a standard issue weepy, but one that wouldn’t exist if he would just say something.
Bounce, to its minimal credit, turns the tables a bit. Abby (Paltrow) chases Buddy; he’s clearly trying to work out of the situation. He swapped flights with Abby’s husband, and said flight smashed into the ground right before Christmas, because everything is more dramatic at Christmas. During a guilt trip, Buddy decides to help Abby out, and wouldn’t you know it? They’re soul mates. Awkward.
Clearly, the topic isn’t straightforward. Learned social interactions don’t prep anyone for such a scenario, and maybe Bounce could have played up the drama until the character arc was completed. Instead, a plot contrivance leads to the big reveal a day before Buddy was going to out the truth. It’s surprising the information wasn’t delivered on Christmas Eve to complete the cycle.
Aimless seems to be the appropriate descriptor, the first twenty minutes wandering seemingly without purpose. Affleck’s Buddy is an impossible ladies man, swelling with an ego large and inflated enough to knock that elephant from the frame. Later, he’s out-acted by an eight-year old. Deflation complete.
Were it not for that nagging, frustrating pachyderm, Bounce could deliver an effectively built romance. Affleck and Paltrow bond on screen, the pacing carries realistic flow, and in terms of mass audience appeal, it breaks at the exact moment necessary. You can predict the meltdown at an hour and twenty minutes, because that’s the cliché the genre subscribes too when working with this length. Oh, and they end up together, because love conquers all or something.
Bounce’s Blu-ray debut suffers from every hallmark a dated, early HD-era master can. Within a matter of minutes, signs of edge enhancement, mild noise reduction, and elevated grain are evident, and generally speaking, they don’t simply disappear. High contrast edges will continue to produce mild halos (light or dark), the grain will prove an annoyance at random intervals, and medium shots continually look devastated by a filter.
The transfer can play visual tricks, with a myriad of close-ups that delineate facial definition. Early scenes in an airport -those without the bothersome, ill-resolved grain- are fantastic. The minor sharpening applied is barely noticed, and there is too much fidelity to merely wipe it from the frame. It’s shaky, inconsistent start that sets the tone for the rest of the feature.
Damage and specks of dirt permeate the film stock, this quick and misguided fDNR job caring little for preservation of the source. Judder become intolerable during a few beach house scenes late, a close-up of Paltrow at 1:09:35 the first sign of trouble. The screen appears to be caught in a horizontal earthquake, the effect enough to force your eyes to try and focus. It’s quite impossible. That won’t be the final instance either.
Produced close to the beginning of digital color grading but avoiding the technique, Bounce looks slightly faded which would not be surprising considering condition. Colors have a paleness to them, although not without appearing natural. Flesh tones are dull and pasty, a reprieve from the hideous oranges that have afflicted modern day features. However, this isn’t that appealing either. Black levels have the tendency to be unkind to shadow detail, further dropping Bounce into the lifeless category. Ever wonder why some people can’t see a difference between Blu-ray and DVD? It’s transfers like this.
Opening credits put this DTS-HD presentation to work immediately as a plane passes through the fronts aggressively, with plenty of oomph. That’s the aural highlight, not because this is a talky romantic drama either. The source, much like the video, shows age. Dialogue is strained and lacking fidelity, pushing through the center sounding ten years older than it is. That’s consistent.
Mild ambiance inside Dodger Stadium or a plane interior will give Bounce some directional life. Music is drab and understated with no opportunity to blossom. It’s also decidedly trapped in the mid-range without any exceptional highs.
Director Don Roos and co-producer Bobby Cohen provide feature length commentary duties, while Roos joins Paltrow & Affleck in a selected scene chat. Note that the selected commentary is not over the main feature, but from a MPEG-2 SD source. Fourteen deleted scenes nearly break 50-minutes total, while a typical 2000-ish “made for TV” featurette runs for 23. Ben and Gwyneth Go Behind the Scenes lets the two actors interview people on set about the feature in limited roundtable-like discussions.
A gag reel has some laughs as they usually do, with a music video and trailers bringing up the rear.
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