Hoop Hell

Martin Lawrence proves he's not leading-man material in this family-friendly failure

I would like to tell you that I didn't want to eat my own head during the majority of running time of Rebound, the new Martin Lawrence vehicle. After all, the movie is for kids. Alas, I wanted to dine on my fat cranium during Rebound, yet another reason to avoid all that is the Martin Lawrence solo-movie vehicle. The guy just can't get it right on his own.

Lawrence does OK as a sidekick. I laughed hard at his ecstasy trip in Bad Boys 2, thought he played well off of Eddie Murphy in Life, and even enjoyed his supporting role in Do the Right Thing way back when. But by himself, his movies suck major ass. Blue Streak, Big Momma's House, Black Knight and now this swill have done nothing but contribute to the decline of western civilization.

Like Will Ferrell, Murphy and Vin Diesel, Lawrence is going family-friendly with his latest (it's no surprise to learn that director Steve Carr also helmed Daddy Day Care and Dr. Dolittle 2). Lawrence plays Roy McCormick, a once-successful college basketball coach who has fallen on bad times due to his temper and fat head. Deodorant commercials and fancy cars have become more important than the game. When he kills a team mascot during a temper tantrum, he's banned from the league for life, unless he can prove himself a sensible, smart coach in the immediate future.

Enter a ragtag gang of precocious kids and their intermediate-school basketball team full of kiddy clichés, including the requisite "barfs when he's nervous" kid. They see that Coach McCormick needs a job; they know they can't play basketball for shit, so they send a fax inviting him to lead the bunch to victory. McCormick and his dickweed agent (the irritating Breckin Meyer) see this as a great publicity stunt, so they trek to the school and sign up for the gig.

McCormick shows up all grouchy and whatnot, thinking he's going to log about a week coaching the little brats before scoring a victory, looking good in the public eye and returning to his former life. When he first enters the gym, the kids can't shoot so much as one basket and get repeatedly trounced. McCormick thinks this makes him look bad, and that doesn't endear him to the kids.

But wouldn't you know it, one of the kids' moms is super hot, so McCormick decides to put a little more effort into things to impress the lady and get her phone number. He inspires the tykes with his vast basketball knowledge like "You've got to stick your arms up in the air when on defense!" and other mind-blowing sportsman trickery.

The kids turn things around Bad News Bears-style, going on an incredible winning streak and enabling Coach McCormick to restore his dignity and get super laid. His getting some occurs off-screen, of course ... this is a kids' film.

Lawrence gets to show off his otherworldly acting skills by pulling an Eddie Murphy and playing more than one role in the film. He also plays, you guessed it, the wacky preacher in pimp clothing, who comes by to pump the kids up with the word of God and give Lawrence a chance to stroke his leading-man ego.

Before the film, a preview for Big Momma's House 2 played, depicting Lawrence in a fat suit and corn rows. This one is apparently coming out sometime in 2006, a year than can be officially dubbed as "The Year of Further Pain From Martin Lawrence and His Dumb-Assed Bag of Tricks."

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