It’s called “Rebound,” but it’s more like “Retread.” This is right off the conveyer belt of underdog-team-of-kids-matched-with hot-headed-and-self-centered-coaches-used-to-sliding-by movies.
That means it is yet another in the endless series of movies about scrappy little sports teams made up of losers and klutzes who overcome a complete lack of talent in one quick montage to learn the meaning of teamwork and beat the meanies who think they’re all that.
Begin with the requisite arrogant guy who has forgotten his love of the game. That would be Martin Lawrence as Roy, a college basketball coach who sends a recorded pep talk to the team so that he can do a photo shoot while they’re at the game. He’s all about the endorsements and the high life and losing his temper at the refs. When he accidentally kills another team’s mascot, the college basketball association suspends him. He has to prove that he can behave himself, but no college team will take him.
Cue the losers and klutzes. Roy ends up in the literally minor leagues, back at the middle school he attended, coaching a team that has only one good player, a kid who conveniently has a beautiful single mother. They’ve never won a game. No one can remember the last time they scored. And that team on the way to the state championship is coached by an arrogant bully. Where could this be leading?
It’s not very good, but it’s relatively painless. There are a couple of genuinely funny moments. Megan Mullally of television’s “Will and Grace” brings her acid delivery and impeccable timing to the role of the principal. When she sees a nationally-known sports figure come into her office, she is sure she knows why he is there. “Community service?” she asks. “We get a lot of athletes in here that way.” Two girls provide a sort of Statler and Waldorf-style commentary on the team’s performance. Roy comes up with a sweet compliment and some better-than-average advice to his team and has a nice chemistry with the kids.
But the movie wastes too much time with silly diversions like an extra character added just to give Lawrence a chance to dress up and a useless detour about whether Roy will go back to coaching a college team. And even by the standards of this category, it overdoes the crude humor. It doesn’t just try to make barfing a source of humor and it doesn’t just do so repeatedly; it actually has the barfing character named “Ralph.”
Parents should know that the movie has some gross-out humor (barfing, crotch injuury) and brief strong language (“damn”). Some family members will be concerned about Roy’s rudeness and lack of consideration, even though the movie is clear that he is happier when he learns better behavior.
Families who see this movie should talk about what lessons each of the players learned from Roy and what lessons he learned from them. Why did he forget what was important to him about the game when he was coaching college students? Do you agree that teamwork beats out talent? Do you agree that “courage is just well-concealed fear?” Can you think of an example? They might want to talk about some of their own experiences with team sports.
Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy some of the underdog classics about kids’ teams, including The Sandlot, Air Bud, and The Bad News Bears (very strong language and some mature material), which is being remade with Billy Bob Thornton.