REBOUND (Steve Carr, 2005)
Conventional wisdom proclaims that there are no new ideas in Hollywood, and this summer’s slate of movies supports such thinking. Each week brings a sequel, a remake, or a TV show adaptation. Richard Linklater’s BAD NEWS BEARS remake is due later in July, yet the last two months have already produced two films in a similar mold. Will Ferrell coached hapless soccer players in KICKING & SCREAMING, and now comes Martin Lawrence as a disgraced basketball coach working with miserable middle school athletes in REBOUND. Lawrence plays self-centered Ohio Polytech coach Roy McCormick, whose off-court and sideline antics earn him a suspension from the National College Basketball Association. With his career in tailspin, Roy agrees to lead the inept Mount Vernon Junior High Smelters. The team is the usual assortment of uncoordinated outsiders, so they’ll need all the help they can get.
REBOUND retreads and recycles the underdog sports movie template with as little character and inspiration as possible. It’s a laugh-free exercise in moviemaking by numbers. A random middle school game would have more drama and comedy than REBOUND can muster. Eddie Murphy has made a successful transition from raw comedy to family films, even if the pics often leave a lot to be desired. Lawrence can be considered a successor to Murphy, but his first venture into kid flicks--helmed here by Murphy’s DADDY DAY CARE and DOCTOR DOLITTLE 2 director Steve Carr--finds him ill-suited for the task. Lawrence has always come off as smug on screen. In REBOUND that quality makes him seem all the more insincere when he’s not supposed to be. Lawrence also seems uncomfortable in a PG-rated environment that forces him to rein in his style.
(Review first aired on the July 5, 2005 NOW PLAYING)