London Film Festival 2013: The Bounceback

Michael Stahl-David. Image: James Jeffrey http://www.flickr.com/photos/jjeffreys/
Michael Stahl-David. Image: James Jeffrey. www.flickr.com/photos/jjeffreys/

Think of Brian Poyser’s The Bounceback as American Pie meets The Break Up. It’s a raucous American indie comedy that is probably not for the more straight-laced film fans out there. Set over one weekend in Austin, Texas, The Bounceback follows 4 main characters during their respective break-ups. Some decidedly non-mainstream subjects will probably hinder this film in terms of a wide release, but I would urge any physical comedy fans to try and see this in a cinema – it’s definitely better enjoyed in a communal environment. Oh and it’s definitely not safe for viewing on the train or at work.

Stan (Michael Stahl-David) notices on Facebook that his ex Cathy (Ashley Bell) will be spending the weekend in Austin. On a moment’s notice he jumps on a plane, hoping to ‘accidentally’ bump into her there and rekindle their relationship. Cathy stays with Kara (Sara Paxton) and Stan meets up with Jeff (Zach Cregger), who incidentally are going through their own messy break-up. It’s a fairly tried and tested concept, but the irreverent comedy and a stand-out performance from Paxton elevate The Bounceback to be more entertaining than your average break-up movie.

Paxton and Cregger excel at providing comic relief throughout the film, with Paxton playing away from type (you’ve probably seen her in something on The Disney Channel before now) as a rock-chick with little to no social manners. She definitely benefits from some of the best lines in the movie – it’s not every day you hear male genitalia compared to “a tiny little microwave” – but both the supporting characters provide a welcome injection of indie-comedy to offset the frequently mundane melancholy looks of Cathy and Stan.

There are a few mundane plot devices used – Facebook updates, missed calls, random cross-over meetings – but The Bounceback’s uniqueness comes from its use of the Air Sex Championships as a major setting. There are some weird and frankly disturbing air-sex performances (and yes, it’s exactly what you think it is), and while it’s really not necessary for the plot it provides some moments of comedy that would make Hollywood shudder.

Poyser and co-writers Steven Walters and David DeGrow have penned a script that most people who’ve gone through a break-up will relate to. Using the two couples as polar opposites is clever, and the fact that for the vast majority of the movie Cathy and Stan share no screen time is pretty unusual for this type of movie. All in all it’s an entertaining watch and will probably be one of those movies you grab for a drunken night in with your friends – but it’s probably not going to become a classic. Unless you really like air-sex.

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