When I was a kid I played in junior league baseball. To be honest, it never really held my interest. While I wasn’t exactly a kid who played just because my dad wanted me to, sports just weren’t my thing. Maybe if we had been total underdogs with a wacky array of characters I would have been more into it. Alas, just another example of life not being like the movies.
Of course, in Rebound that might not be a bad thing, since even though it has the screwball characters on an underdog team, it’s just not that interesting. It’s not about baseball (which in my mind is one of the slowest most boring sports out there) but instead focuses on the fast paced world of kid’s basketball. Even a faster paced sport doesn’t help though, as Rebound is so locked into the formula for an underdog kid’s sports movie that you can’t help but feel you’ve seen this movie before, and probably done better than it is here.
In Rebound Martin Lawrence plays “Coach Roy”, one of the biggest names in college basketball. Unfortunately for Roy he’s bought into his own hype and spends less time actually coaching his basketball team and more time working on his endorsement deals and garnering technical fouls for yelling at referees. When Roy is ejected from yet another game, he throws a fit and accidentally ends up killing the bird mascot of the opposing team. The college decides they're through with his antics and cans him, but thanks to the fast work of Roy’s PR agent (Breckin Meyer), Roy gets another chance to prove himself with whatever team he can find. In this case the team is from Roy’s old junior high school, a bunch of misfits who wrote to Roy for help as a longshot and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
As a underdog kid’s sports movie, Rebound becomes painfully predictable. You know at first Roy will be a jerk, focused more on saving his career than actually helping the kids, although later he’ll be able to offer wisdom the character never appeared to have to help his team win. You know Roy will eventually find aid for the team in the local bully, who is really kind hearted inside. You know the kid who hasn’t made a shot yet will eventually make the winning basket in the final game, and somewhere in there will be some kind of romance with one of the player’s parents. The plot is so obvious you have no choice but to turn to the acting for the entertainment.
Of course, the problem there is that the acting isn’t really good. We have a bunch of colorful characters, but unlike other movies of this type, the focus really isn’t on the kids. Martin Lawrence is the one in the spotlight, though he is almost always at his best when he’s acting against another talented actor. The film's collection of moppet children and B-list television actors aren’t really enough to help out, so the movie just looks like an attempt by Lawrence to convince the audience that the talents that gave him a successful television show should earn him a movie career as well. As in his old tv show, Lawrence even has a brief appearance as a second character in the movie to show his versatility, but since the appearance is so brief, and the character is completely unneeded, it’s a wasted attempt, just like most of the movie. Instead Lawrence slurs his way through the role like a man who needed alcohol to make it through each day stuck with these kids. If that’s the case, he should admit it in an interview somewhere so the audience doesn’t feel guilty using alcohol to make it through his movie.
Rebound is little more than the newest entry in a long line of underdog children’s sports movies, a genre that is beginning to feel less and less like an actual genre, and more like the exact same movie remade over and over again. In fact, my screening for Rebound included the trailer for the upcoming Bad News Bears remake which features the same tired plot devices and motley assortment of characters, proving there’s no need for creativity in these kinds of films. Along with the Bears remake, Rebound is one of three underdog kid’s sports movies to come out this summer, and it doesn’t offer much, other than a kid-friendly movie on the marquee to draw attention as a family film. It’s summer time. Skip this one and go play some real sports with your kids in the park. No doubt, your family is just as colorful, and less painfully predictable to be around than this movie.