Plot: Roy McCormick (Martin Lawrence) is one of the most famous coaches in college basketball, or more to the point, infamous coaches. He is a skilled coach, but he has let his fame and success go to his head, to the point where his work as a coach has taken a backseat. McCormick is more focused on getting more endorsement deals, putting money and exposure over his own career. But he is on thin ice of late, after he missed half of a game in order to shoot a magazine photo spread, not exactly the actions of a devoted coach. Even when he is on the bench, he can be troublesome, as he has a hot temper and often flies off the handle. His behavior hits an all time low when he gets mad and throws a basketball at the other team’s bench, hitting their bird mascot and killing it. Instead of banning him from college basketball, he is offered a chance to redeem himself, by coaching a hopeless middle school team, for free, no less. But can he overcome his own problems, then use his skills to turn the team around, or has he lost the touch?
Entertainment Value: Rebound tries to shine up one of the most well worn concepts in cinema, as a coach tries to whip a band of misfits into a competent sports team, but does little to freshen up the premise. As often happens in these kind of movies, the movie hopes a colorful, well known persona in the coach role can work wonders, but that doesn’t pan out too well. Martin Lawrence is fine in the lead, but seems disinterested and the material feels too restrained, which holds back his manic, over the top style he is known for. The movie is aimed at family audiences, so I can kind of understand the more reserved approach, but I think Lawrence is too fenced in and the humor suffers, which drags down the entire picture. I do think younger audiences will find some laughs here, as the players are colorful and have a silly sense of humor, but grown ups aren’t as likely to be won over by Rebound. But if you are a sports movie nut or just love underdog stories, perhaps you’d get a little more out of it.
I think Martin Lawrence is an interesting choice for the lead, as he has a real wacky presence, but as I said above, he is misused here. He would have to tone down his style of course, given the family friendly nature of Rebound, but even his energy level seems sapped in this performance. He is dialed way down and no one else juices the comedic vibe much, so he just kind of goes through the motions instead of adding a manic energy to the movie. He is passable and earns some mild laughs, but it seems like a waste of a colorful performer, to be so muted here. It also impacts his costars, as no one is able to build good banter or play off his usual energetic persona. Even so, fans of his work will at least get a little fun out of this one, though you need to temper your expectations quite a bit. The cast here also includes Horatio Sanz, Patrick Warburton, Alia Shawkat, Breckin Meyer, and Megan Mullally.