This summer will have no fewer than three movies featuring a band of misfit kids playing sports. Not that there's anything wrong with that. If people had a problem with Hollywood repeating the same thing, the box office slump would have started with Jaws II. What moviegoers should be upset about is when the original recipe isn't altered in any way. Though Kicking & Screaming was an average movie, think how awful it would have been minus Will Farrell's soccer dad rage. And you know Billy Bob Thornton is going to bring something funky to The Bad News Bears.
With Rebound, the newest sports and children comedy, audiences have every right to be upset. The recipe not only hasn't been changed, it's been left in the oven far too long. Esteemed and volatile college basketball coach Roy McCormack (Martin Lawrence) is thrown out of the league after an incident involving his renowned temper, a basketball, and a dead bird. Looking for a way to look good while the offers roll in, Roy coaches the basketball team at his old junior high school.
Roy has a long road to hoe. The team can't shoot, can't play defense, and may even have trouble breathing. After being shut out 109-0, Roy begins to care. It's not out of any concern for the players, mind you. Getting blown out by triple digits doesn't look good on the resume. So, after some recruiting and some organized practices, wouldn't you know, the team starts winning! And wouldn't you know, the kids learn about teamwork! And wouldn't you know, Roy starts to love the ragamuffins! And wouldn't you know...
That's the big flaw in Rebound -- you know it, all of it. The plot is an updated, lifeless version of Hoosiers, and it proceeds like a "choose your own adventure" story where the answers are given for you. As for the characters, you've seen these people a thousand times before, and as recently as a month ago. Exchange the kids in Kicking & Screaming with the kids in Rebound and you don't know the difference. (In fact, one of the actors, Steven Anthony Lawrence, was in both.)
The adults aren't any better crafted than the kids, and their involvement in the movie is just as predictable. There's a love interest for Roy which goes like this: girl hates boy, boy flirts with girl, girl sees boy isn't such a bad guy, audience does collective Marty Feldman-esque eye roll. I lost track of how many inspiring speeches Roy gave to the kids. It was probably between six and a billion.
I don't think anyone buying a ticket for Rebound is expecting the basketball equivalent of Citizen Kane, but director Steve Carr, the writers, and Lawrence could have shaken things up. This would have been an opportune time for Lawrence to let loose circa 1995, to do what Farrell did in Kicking & Screaming, instead of acting as if the shooting schedule ran into his dinner reservations. The writers could have jettisoned some useless adult characters, and let us know the kids better. I would have loved for Megan Mullally's principal to have more screen time with Lawrence. They could have clashed over the school's lack of amenities and lack of funds, with sass dripping from their fangs. Carr and his crew stick to the recipe. There's no sass, plenty of boring characters, and no chance.
Hey #37, you're hogging the frame.