Rebound (2005) / Comedy-Family

MPAA Rated: PG for mild language
Running Time: 103 min.

Cast: Martin Lawrence, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Oren Williams, Breckin Meyer, Steven C. Parker, Horatio Sanz, Tara Correa, Patrick Warburton, Eddy Martin, Steven Anthony Lawrence, Logan McElroy, Gus Hoffman, Fred Stoller, Tom Arnold, John Salley
Director: Steve Carr
Screenplay: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Review published July 4, 2005

One would think that comedian Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys II, National Security) should be funnier with less censorship, and I've seen him do NC-17 material, as well as R and PG-13.  Yet strangely, the more unbridled Lawrence is, the more he seems to reach into the back of his pants to come up with the most vulgar humor imaginable, and the movies he is in suffer as a result.  I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Rebound may be the first film in Lawrence's career to be rated PG, which in this day and age usually means a family film with mild innuendo.  Given such restrictions, it would seem impossible for Lawrence to be funny without the benefit of a good script (something which has alluded him for his entire career), since his ability to ad-lib won't let him use vulgarity as a crutch in this instance.

Here is the ultimate irony of Rebound.  It's about a loudmouth bigshot that finds himself having to work with kids in order to hope he gains the popularity and prominence he once held.  I can't think of a more perfect way to describe Martin Lawrence at this stage of his career.

Lawrence plays former basketball star turned collegiate coach Roy McCormick, winner of several championships in his day, but lately, he finds himself hurting his team more than helping thanks to the technical fouls he gets in almost every game arguing with the referees.  it's gotten to the point where he gets them just for doing nothing, and that really makes him lose his cool.  The NCBA (akin to the NCAA for purposes of this movie) fire him from his job and try to put a life ban on him, but according to the rules, McCormick is allowed some time to prove he can comply to the punishment and be reinstated.  With no other college teams willing to take a chance on the hothead coach, McCormick's agent (Meyer, Herbie Fully Loaded) comes up with the idea for McCormick to coach the junior high where he first came into prominence, making him look good in the eyes of the public.  McCormick agrees, but inherits the worst team in the league, with players that have never even scored a point in any game this season.  Ray continues to lose, becoming the laughing stock of the national sports shows, and now he finds to gain his reputation back, he must find a way for these perpetual losers to win some games.

Rebound is yet another of the endless Bad News Bears clones, following a designated formula where the team is built with a bunch of eccentric losers that find that they can win if they listen to the coach and start playing like a team.  It's the kind of film where every game seems to come down to the final buzzer, and the coach actually manages to get them into the playoffs for one final game where the kid with the most need for self-esteem has to sink the final free throw to secure a victory.  We've already seen a similar vehicle this year in the noisy and juvenile Kicking and Screaming, and I'm sure we'll see one or two others before the year is complete.  Yes, Rebound could just as easily been called Retread.

As easy as it might be to slam Rebound for so many things it does wrong, I do have to admit something I never thought I'd admit again in a Martin Lawrence vehicle.  For what it is, as long as you can accept its derivativeness, it's actually not that bad.  Lawrence actually shows some charisma and a likeability for the first time in years, apparently looking like he is enjoying working with the kids and playing in a movie that's a slam dunk for almost any comedian.  This is one of those movies that I know is bad, yet I was able to accept as a movie that kids will probably enjoy, and to a limited extent, I found surprisingly watchable, comforted by the familiarity with the subject matter.

Crafted in crowd-pleasing form by Daddy Day Care's Steve Carr, Rebound is bad but harmlessly so.  It's innocuous fare that will probably please families looking for something for the whole family that will probably not offend the sensibilities of any, with the younger set probably enjoying this most (since they haven't seen this dog-tired formula as much as the adults).  Possibly the best Martin Lawrence film since Life, and while it is definitely not a good film, the fact that it isn't as unpleasant as a kick to the groin (like most of this other movies) is worth being just a little thankful for. 

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo