Movie Review - The Bounce Back

Shemar Moore is an Emmy-winning actor who most people will know from his iconic role in CBS' The Young and the Restless and his decade-long stint on Criminal Minds. He's also done some modeling and since the late 90's has been considered a sex symbol. Yet, he hasn't really done much in movies in his now 20-year career. He's now 46 and this is probably only his third, theatrical film. Arguably, his second is the closest comparison to this in that he was also the romantic lead in Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005). Hopefully, this film will pave the way for Moore to do more films where he's the lead. He's certainly handsome and charming and could do well in those kinds of roles, be they romantic or not.

Shemar Moore stars as Matthew Taylor, a best-selling author of a self-help book about love and relationships. Yet, his book sales are dropping. He's currently on a book tour to try to boost sales. He also gives seminars, mainly to women. He's separated from his wife but he shares custody of their 13-year-old daughter.

Nadine Velazquez (My Name is Earl and The League) also stars as Kristin Peralta, a therapist who thinks that Matthew's book is bunk. She thinks that the only reason his book is a best-seller is because he's physically attractive and is a bit of a ladies man, not because his writing is all that great or because his philosophy is effective at all. A viral video of her speaking against him at a seminar gets her a TV deal to continue speaking out against him.

Bill Bellamy (Love Jones and How To Be a Player) co-stars as Terry Twist, the agent who represents Matthew and who is accompanying Matthew on the book tour. He doesn't like Kristin and opposes the deal, which would put her on tour with Matthew. He's mainly the comic relief and the audience surrogate. He does have a bit of a flirtation with Sam, played by Robinne Lee (Deliver Us From Eva and Hitch) who is a talent-booker at one of the TV shows where Matthew is a guest. Somehow, she shows up backstage at other shows.

Directed by Youssef Delara and co-written by Delara as well as Victor Teran and Staci Robinson, the movie makes some missteps in regards to Matthew as a character. This is minor, but for some reason we never see Matthew eat or actually put food into his mouth. At a BBQ restaurant, we see Kristin eating ribs and smearing sauce on her face, but we never see Matthew touch any food in that scene. Later during a breakfast scene, we see Kristin eating but not Matthew, and it was at that point where I started to feel the imbalance on how the two characters were being treated, or it was just Moore's way of letting people know that his perfectly-sculpted abdominal muscles were in no danger.

In the movie, everyone, aside from Kristin, says the book is great, but at no point does the movie provide demonstrable proof of the book's greatness. Matthew never reads from the book to give us an idea of his writing style and how brilliant it allegedly is. The movie never justifies why Matthew is even a best-seller. We never really get his credentials like where he went to school or what qualifies him to write this book or even why it would take off.

When he goes on TV with Kristin and starts to debate her about the book, it does appear to be an improper debate because she's a trained therapist and he's just some guy who wrote a book. It's not like he's Dr. Phil or Steve Harvey or somebody like that. From the beginning, the fact they would go on tour and debate each other never feels like it makes sense. They don't feel equally matched, despite the film's attempts to depict Kristin as an ineffective therapist. A misstep with Kristin as a character is when the filmmakers have her apologize to Matthew for merely giving him an honest and professional assessment of his book and his philosophy. Yes, she was tough but a woman shouldn't have to apologize for that.

There's also a logic gap that they give to her. Kristin opposes Matthew's book, yet she gets convinced to go on the tour with him and do the TV deals. At no point does she realize that by doing this, she's actually helping his book sales. By going on tour with him, she's also sacrificing her patients whom she basically just abandons. After the first fifteen or twenty minutes, Kristin's job and her being a doctor becomes a distant thing.

What makes the movie not much of a debate is about half-way through the characters acknowledge that Matthew's book and Kristin's therapy are not that far apart. The only dispute is that Matthew eschews focusing on the past. He'd rather focus on the future, stating that love is a choice. Any reasonable person knows that this is bologna, so his inevitable turnabout is ever the more inevitable.

The only real conflict comes in the relationship between Matthew and his ex-wife, the mother of his child, and her new husband, George, played by Michael Beach (Third Watch and The 100). Yet, the movie doesn't really give us any details about that relationship like what went wrong or why it didn't last or why after 10 years he wasn't over it.

A weird montage between Matthew and Kristin in Times Square also had me scratching my head.

If you want to see a better film with Shemar Moore with Bill Bellamy, check out The Brothers (2001).

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 44 mins.


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