It's getting more than a little tiresome sitting through sport movies revolving around a team of under-aged underdogs and their curmudgeonly coach. The genre's newest addition, the dull and unoriginal Rebound, does nothing to improve the situation. And you are surprised by that?
Coach Roy (Martin Lawrence) was once a college basketball coach who cared about the players and the game, guiding his team to many championships. But fame and fortune took over. Now, he's paying more attention to his endorsements and less on his team, and to top it off, also has an uncontrollable temper on the court. All these kindly attributes finally gets Roy fired and nearly banned from the game forever. But he's given one more chance to ''demonstrate compliance,'' providing he can find a team to coach. Enter the Mount Vernon Junior High School Smelters basketball squad. Roy has to reluctantly accept their offer, being that it's the only one he got, and hopes that a few weeks at the school will prove his good intentions and restore him to his high-living ways as a celebrated college coach. But we all know how this is going to go, right? Teaching a few basic skills to his young, desperately lame charges, the teams starts to win, and Roy is suddenly filled with love for the game again. Pass the barf bag, please.
Not quite sure where Martin Lawrence's head is right now. He's a funny guy, there's no denying it. But for every hit film he's done (Bad Boys, Big Momma's House), he's done sooo many bad ones (Black Knight, National Security). And it just continues with Rebound. It could be time to look for a new agent, Martin. That isn't to say the actor isn't totally unlikable as Roy, a Bobby Knight wannabe. Lawrence does an admirable job, infusing the character with piss and vinegar at first but then letting the holier-than-thou bubble burst after his hearts warms up to the kids--and he realizes what an ass he is being. But we've seen it all before. The kid actors also do what they are hired to do, playing their clichéd roles--the hotshot ball hog (Oren Williams); the tall, clumsy kid (Steven Christopher Parker); the tough-as-nails delinquent (Tara Correa); the kid who throws up (Steven Anthony Lawrence)--as best they can. Megan Mullally, as the school's snarky principal, and Patrick Warburton, as a pumped-up rival junior high coach, are the film's only breath of fresh air.
Maybe the studio execs at 20th Century Fox thought opening Rebound on the same Fourth of July weekend as War of the Worlds would attract the younger set who might be traumatized by scary aliens. But it's much more likely they didn't have any faith in this inane kids' comedy, so why not open it against the biggest summer movie EVER. It doesn't really matter. Director Steve Carr (Daddy Day Care) does what he was hired to do. It's a no-brainer. You show the kids as losers, falling over each other on the court. Then set up the coach, who ignores them at first and then slowly warms up to them, turning the team into a lean mean fighting machine. Then have the kid who can't make a basket score THE winning basket. And then send everyone out for pizza. And make sure the soundtrack has the same old tired songs like House of Pain's ''Jump Around.'' Actually, I'm a little nervous about the upcoming remake of Bad News Bears, that it might fall into the same pitfalls. But then again, it's got Billy Bob Thornton in it, and watching him pelt kids with baseballs is pretty darn funny.
If you think your kids are too young to see the creepy War of the Worlds, give the run-of-the-mill Rebound a miss and take them to see Madagascar again.