Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Martin Lawrence……….Roy McCormick/Preacher Don
Wendy Raquel Robinson……….Jeanie Ellis
Breckin Meyer……….Tim Fink
Horatio Sanz……….Mr. Newirth
Oren Williams……….Keith Ellis
Patrick Warburton……….Larry Burgess
Megan Mullally……….Principal Walsh
Eddy Martin……….One Love
Steven C. Parker……….Wes
Steven Anthony Lawrence……….Ralph
Tara Correa-McMullen……….Big Mac (as Tara Correa)
Eminem once opined that Will Smith didn’t need to curse in his songs, but he did. What he meant was that while Smith could be creative without needing to stoop to choosing the words to put between the obscenities while Eminem’s vocabulary wasn’t quite as blessed as Smith’s. And lots of comedians are like that, as without the comfort of the seven dirty words or pandering to the lowest common denominator many flounder. Cursing is easy, comedy isn’t.
Martin Lawrence is the perfect example of this; he’s not funny in a way that’s creative or requires more thought than a thirteen year old boy can imagine. His comedy mainly consists of large quantities of foul language and off-color jokes; it’s funny to a certain extent but after a while there are only so many times you can hear the same four letter words and continue to think of someone as creative, talented or funny.
In Rebound Lawrence stars as Coach Roy McCormick. Roy’s a Bobbie Knight caricature meshed with the stereotyped image of a modern professional athlete; he’s a great coach more concerned with endorsement deals than winning games. Having disgraced himself from the NCBA (the movie’s version of the NCAA) after he accidentally kills a mascot, McCormick goes to the junior high school he once attended to coach their basketball team. It’s his shot at redemption and his ticket back to the big money, big contract land of the NCBA. As he walks back into the junior high from which he came from, he learns a lot about life, himself and the game of basketball from a group of children blessed with no athletic ability.
If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the plot of almost every children’s sports movie ever made. From the inferior hockey version of this story in The Mighty Ducks to the spectacular spoof The Bad News Bears, the story of a rag tag group of misfits who learn how to be great is a universal story. It’s also universally bad (with certain exceptions), and Rebound is no exception to this rule.
Lawrence proves to be the movie’s most glaring inadequacy as his inability to be funny without using his normal routine is the movie’s weakness. Lawrence’s trademark facial mannerisms are irritating at first and then become so much of a distraction that the movie grinds to a halt. As the archetypical coach/mentor of the team his character has a defined arc that’s predictable and easy to follow; it takes someone with a strong performance to make the character likeable and easy to root for. Lawrence isn’t that sort of actor; when required to do more than just curse and make bodily function references he just doesn’t have that sort of comedic range.
Lawrence isn’t the only weakness in this air ball of a basketball movie. The team he coaches is all easily summed up in one or two word descriptions. And it’s not like they are original in any sort of way; the types of characters designed are all ripped off from other movies of the ilk. While the bulk are just one-dimensional versions of their counterparts from The Bad News Bears, there isn’t an original character to be had.
Originality isn’t the movie’s strong point as well; it is one thing for the movie to be predictable and yet still entertain. The tale of the underdog is to get you to rally around the hero by taking you from point zero to the big climactic finale. But the movie takes this to an absurd level as the team just isn’t bad; they are so bad that they haven’t scored a point in 20 years. From zeroes to heroes is condensed into about five minutes at the most. There is no point where the hero wins the hearts and minds; the kids aren’t endearing or anything more than just placeholders.
This is not a bad movie; it’s flat out horrible. Martin Lawrence has never been one to make movies that are decent, but this is a new low even for him.