Starring: Martin Lawrence, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Breckin Meyer, Horatio Sanz, Megan Mullaly
Here's a classic case of "if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie." In fact, if you know the premise, you could write the movie yourself.
That it took three writers -- even if two of them were John J. Strauss and Ed Decter (The Lizzie McGuire Movie, The Santa Clause 2) -- to cook up this story, which first-time offender screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore mixed up into a screenplay, is quite remarkable. Any of the 10-year-olds at which this movie is apparently aimed could have done the same in between school and dinner -- and still had time out for milk and cookies.
The recipe is so easy: Make Martin Lawrence a hot-headed, egotistical college basketball coach, get him thrown out of the league and have him land at junior high school, where he'll coach misfit 13-year-olds and learn both the error of his ways and what really matters. You can practically hear the pitch that was made to the studio, promising that the movie would do for Lawrence what School of Rock did for Jack Black and Are We There Yet? did for Ice Cube.
I think I laughed once, when Wendy Raquel Robinson called Lawrence handsome. (OK, so I chuckled at Lawrence's comment about growing up "on the mean streets of suburbia," but that was it.) However, I didn't actively dislike the film, which is a major accomplishment for the movie, considering the fact it stars Martin Lawrence.
The truth is that a reined-in, PG-rated Lawrence is a lot more palatable than the PG-13 or R-rated Lawrence. (For those who like Lawrence at his cruder level, worry not -- Rebound comes with an attached trailer for Big Momma's House 2, which boasts a substantial crudity quotient.) He doesn't exactly become cute and cuddly, but the sleaze factor is pleasantly absent, and he actually does something that could almost be taken for acting.
Still, it's not so much Lawrence who makes the film as painless as it is, but the kids. Even though they're the exact assortment of central-casting types that you know are going to populate a movie about misfits playing sports, the young actors -- especially Tara Correa (TV's Judging Amy) and virtual newcomer Steven C. Parker -- come across as both likable and believable. Some members of the supporting cast, such as Horatio Sanz (TV's Saturday Night Live) and Megan Mullaly (Stealing Harvard), help, but most of them are wasted in thankless, one-dimensional roles.
The bottom line on this one is that it's not horrible. In other words, exposure to Rebound will not require immediate medical attention -- but you could say the same thing about a plate of unflavored tofu. That doesn't mean there's any reason to seek it out. Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke