(2000)2.5Derek ArmstrongIgniting rumors that their on-again, off-again relationship was back on, Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow paired up for this above-average love story that toys with issues of fate and destiny. The two stars had become sickeningly cutesy and larger than life when this film was released, which may have turned audiences away from what should have been a box-office hit. But Bounce finds both performers toning down their personas and coming across as vulnerable and loveable, which is the key to its surprising charm. Paltrow is especially affecting as the widow Abby Janello, seen a year after the disaster, using defense mechanisms and a fragile supply of self-confidence to get her life back on track. Once the tragedy knocks the simpering smile from Affleck's face, he too is just trying to survive in his new guilt-ridden existence. The movie succumbs too often to plot contrivances that are beneath it. The most egregious is Affleck's teary courtroom apologia near the end, a self-indulgence that no judge would tolerate, which also happens to be aired live on Court TV so Abby can watch it. Johnny Galecki, who appeared in writer/director Don Roos' previous film, The Opposite of Sex, is also out of place as an insubordinate assistant who mocks Buddy's alcoholism, but ends up serving as sort of a guardian angel to him. Still, the stars make Bounce more than watchable.