"Rebound" shoots an air ball
Martin Lawrence can mug with the best of them. The leering persona of a charmed, aw-shucks playa was honed from the first in his TV hit...
Special to The Seattle Times
Martin Lawrence can mug with the best of them. The leering persona of a charmed, aw-shucks playa was honed from the first in his TV hit "Martin," then razor-sharpened in a bunch of mildly entertaining big-screen vehicles. That beloved-by-many mug is the only draw this early-summer throwaway has going for it.
In fact, the marketing power of "Rebound" is as ready-made as its utterly uninspired script and lazy sitcom style. It's clearly billed as a kids movie; and it has all the formulaic qualities to draw on the demographic bases of kids, Martin Lawrence fans or kids whose parents are Martin Lawrence fans.
That doesn't necessarily mean any of those demographic targets will show up. This is a stupid movie. But it's a pretty good example of what's causing so much worry about box-office revenue in Hollywood executive suites. People could go out to the movies, or just wait a few weeks for the stupid movies to turn into stupid DVDs.
The plot has Lawrence playing Roy McCormick, a high-living college-basketball coach at the top of his game with another winning team. He also has an anger-management problem that finally earns him a major-league suspension. The last straw in his string of rage-fueled courtside shenanigans unfolds in an elaborate gag involving a punctured ball, a dead team mascot and a ref who is clearly not a Martin Lawrence fan.
As penance for his chronic misconduct and to keep the suspension from becoming permanent, coach Roy takes the advice of his sleazy agent, Tim Fink (Breckin Meyer), and weasels himself into a PR-friendly pro bono job coaching the junior-varsity squad at his middle-school alma mater.
Such a zany batch of 13-year-olds you've never seen, unless you've been watching old episodes of "Saved by the Bell" and "Boy Meets World." At first, coach Roy couldn't give a hoot about what the team does or whether they break their triple-digit-to-nothing losing streak. But then Fink points out that if he ever hopes to live high on the hoop again, he needs a winning team, even if it is just a team of nerdy pubescents.
Enter the angry scorn that brought Roy glory as a college team leader. Bet you can't guess what happens when he wakes up and smells his own humanity. Believe me, it's no spoiler to say that the little team that could makes it all the way to the state championships (state!).
Helping coach Roy on the way to being a nice guy is a sexy teacher (Wendy Raquel Robinson), who just happens to have a kid on the team and a peace of mind that can't help but rub off on the perfunctory proceedings.
Besides Lawrence, Megan Mullally as the harried school principal is the only other ray of light in this movie. Other than that, you might be better off with "Saved by the Bell" or the next item on that stupid-DVD shelf.
Ted Fry: firstname.lastname@example.org