fan base ages into parenthood, a smart comedian takes a
stab at making a "family" movie. When a comedian has also
had trouble on and off screen, pulling in the young set
becomes a foregone conclusion. It took Martin Lawrence a
little while to accept that, and so, almost unbelievably,
it's been two years since we last saw him on screen in Bad
Boys II and possibly five years since an out and
out success with Big Momma's House.
Even more unbelievable? With the somewhat
predictable Rebound, Lawrence may actually deserve
to be on the path to box office redemption.
Life imitates art as the jug-eared comedian
plays an ultra-cocky and hot-tempered college basketball
coach more concerned with his perks than his actual work.
As a result, his glory days are long behind him, even if
he doesn't notice.
For the first ten minutes or so, this seems
like just another Martin Lawrence movie, with "Coach Roy"
barely making eye contact with anyone else in the scene
and being generally dismissive. But when he accidentally
kills an opposing college's mascot (kids should be exposed
to dark humor early), Roy gets called on the carpet.
Only the quick thinking of his agent, the
obviously named Tim Fink (Breckin Meyer), saves Roy's career
from being utterly destroyed. Though fired from his job,
he has a chance to return if he can go for a suspension
period of exemplary behavior.
What are the odds? His middle school alma mater has a losing
team and a home ec teacher (Horatio Sanz) for a coach. Star
player Keith faxes Coach Roy an offer, which Fink takes
as a great publicity opportunity. And thus begins the rehabilitation
of Coach Roy.
Plot-wise, Rebound has no real surprises
to offer, following the "misfit sports team" genre started
by Bad News Bears. Roy even finds a star player in
a troubled girl, Big Mac (Tara Correa). If some of it seems
even more recent, look no further back than Kicking &
Screaming; Rebound even has one of the same misfit
kids from that movie, Steven Anthony Lawrence.
It might also be hard to swallow certain
contrivances, such as the middle school having exactly five
players, and apparently, they're all conveniently in 7th
Grade in case of Rebound 2: Still Bouncin'.
like this only become forgivable if they have charm, and
director Steve Carr proved he could deliver that with Daddy
Day Care, another predictable but lightly pleasant
kid movie. Carr's real trick, though, lies in making Lawrence
grow to pleasantness. As Roy learns to bond with these kids
and take responsibility for his job as their coach, so Lawrence
seems to be learning to bond with the child actors. Usually,
other characters in his films exist only so a plot can revolve
around him. He makes eye contact and really appears to care.
The spotlight also shifts around. While
Lawrence never loses control of the movie, he shares the
laughs. Most of Sanz' bits are just goofy, though they'll
probably score with the kids. But Patrick Warburton and
Megan Mullally both play against their sitcom images to
great effect. As a rival basketball coach, Warburton taps
into the utter jerk side that he rarely flashed on Seinfeld.
It's good to see him play something other than his usual
So effective is Roy/Lawrence's transformation,
he even has a believable love interest. Keith's mother Jeannie
(Wendy Raquel Robinson) has him rightly pegged as shallow
and self-interested, but keeps enough of an open mind to
witness his change of heart. When they inevitably date,
it doesn't seem nearly as contrived as it could have been,
and we only really witness the awkward beginnings of a relationship
without being sure where it will lead.
not sure where this newfound near-liking of Martin Lawrence
will lead, either. But I'm willing to give it a chance.