The filmmakers in Rebound diligently stick to the prescribed "kids sports movie" formula, and desperately hope that Martin Lawrence provides a flicker of spunk.
I can't give Rebound more than two stars, not because it was necessarily bad, but because it was painfully predictable. It dares not stray from the tired but true progression of, "a small team of misfits is matched up with a reluctant savior, who inevitably leads the team to victory only after learning a valuable lesson." In this case, the reluctant coach, Roy McCormick, is played by Martin Lawrence, who attempts to single-handedly provide some unique quality to this film in order to distinguish it from all other kid movies. He fails.
Roy McCormick is a hotshot college basketball coach with an outrageous temper and passion for endorsement deals. The audience is repeatedly shown how out of touch with basketball Coach Roy has become by showing many examples of his advertisements, his flashy car, his expensive suits, etc. We are even treated to the routine clips from "The Best Damn Sports Show," where Tom Arnold proclaims that Coach Roy is losing it. After we have firmly established that Roy is in fact out of touch already, we get the inevitable temper tantrum that results in his expulsion from the league. Coach Roy then reluctantly agrees to coach a struggling junior high basketball team. This brilliant plan will supposedly help him rebuild his reputation, thereby allowing him to gain readmittance to the league. Because apparently, the best way to gain credibility as a basketball coach is to instruct reject junior high kids, at which point one will just be rolling in offers from the NBA.
We watch as Coach Roy methodically teaches the kids how to play basketball, one skill at a time, through a series of over-dramatic techniques. He brings in a weird hoodlum preacher who is not funny at all and looks suspiciously like Martin Lawrence dressed up as a hoodlum preacher. He scours the student body for a very tall kid who is also clumsy in a humorous way. He also recruits a large girl to the team, as she is Susie-Likes-to-Fight, and Roy thinks that if things get rough, he can always channel his inner John Chaney and send her out to pummel someone. The audience laughs because she's a girl! Haha, get itshe's a girl! And all the while, goofy and upbeat music plays helpfully in the background, reminding us that this is a stupid kid's movie.
There's the romance factor of course, with Coach Roy trying to get a date with one kid's mom. There's also the slapstick assistant coach (played by SNL cast member Horatio Sanz), who bumbles around hoping to provide supplemental humor when basketballs slip out of his grasp and fly in all directions; there's the overzealous opposing coach who thinks junior high school basketball is as important as college or NBA--but then again, can you really blame the guy? After all, the film has already established that coaching junior high school basketball is a direct path to the big leagues.
Needless to say, this movie is tiresomely predictable, but not necessarily bad. I know that kids will like it, so I would recommend it as a very family-friendly movie. It definitely has the "cute factor," in that sense, but those of us who are not 13 may not see the same value in Rebound.