Legendary college basketball coach Roy McCormick has seen better days. Despite a successful history (including three championships), he hasn't cut down the nets in quite some time. That bothers him. Not because the game or his players are so important, but because losing reflects poorly on the "Coach Roy" brand with its lucrative endorsement deals. He bottoms out when, during a mid-game meltdown with officials, Roy's tantrum accidentally causes the death of a feathered mascot.
Banned from the college ranks and maligned in the media, Roy returns to his junior high school at the behest of his calculating agent, Tim Fink. It's a public relations ploy: Give the kids a thrill for a couple of weeks and build goodwill while Tim pursues a "real job" for the coach. Of course, if Roy's temper flares up or he steps out of line, he'll suffer the added humiliation of getting fired as a middle school coach. It becomes a real challenge. The 13-year-old sad sacks Roy inherits are so terrible that they only sully his image further. They're getting shut out in every game. Even the few boys with any talent can't score because they're too selfish. With all eyes on his next move, Roy can only hope to perform a coaching miracle, turn them into winners and salvage what's left of his collegiate career.
Coach Roy undergoes a transformation from selfish hothead to nurturing mentor and discovers that helping children achieve their potential is more satisfying than wealth or fame. He handles a humbling situation with grace and, despite a crusty exterior, grows in his capacity to show kindness to young people. Manipulative, image-conscious and hypercompetitive characters are portrayed in a negative light. A teacher named Jeanie wants what's best for her students (and her own son, Roy's best player) and refuses to let the tempestuous coach become a bad influence.
Roy's players learn to function as a team and be unselfish with the ball ("Teamwork beats out talent every day"). He teaches them that success—in basketball and life—is predicated on bravery ("Courage is just well-concealed fear") and talking to one another ("Communication is the key. It's like a healthy relationship at home"). Roy's pep talk to a spotlight-hog includes giving him sneakers possessing sentimental value. He advises a bully that "real power is about being respected, not crackin' heads."
When the team bus gets a flat tire, a frustrated Roy looks to the sky and asks God what he did to deserve his misfortune. Actor Martin Lawrence (in a brief duel role as a colorful preacher who looks like a sketch character from MAD TV) shows up to administer a pregame prayer that Christians may find offensive rather than funny. In addition to being dressed more like a pimp than a pastor, his prayer—backed by goofy organ music and peppered with insincere amens—includes the remark, "We ask that You injure some key players on the other team ... because we know You love a winner." He also quotes Isaiah 54:17.
Roy's gaze lingers on a boy's attractive mother as she walks away (we see his reaction, not her body). Boys and girls are innocently drawn to each other. Jeanie and Roy kiss.
Wayward basketballs do some damage. One hits a boy in the groin. Another whacks Roy in the face, bloodying his nose. And when the coach kicks a ball in anger, it kills the team mascot—a trained bird of prey. Big Mac is a beefy girl in the habit of threatening and pounding anyone who looks at her cockeyed. She trips an opponent, shoves a teammate into a locker and punches a rival player in the face. When a classmate makes fun of her for having a boyfriend, she chases him down and pummels him, then steals his jacket and skateboard. After hoisting a player in victory, a distracted coach dumps the boy onto the floor.
Crude or Profane Language
The mild profanity "d--n" is used twice by adults and appears in the logo for the FoxSports talkfest The Best D--n Sports Show Period. Roy tells someone to "shut up," and the school principal instructs a colleague to "stick it where the sun don't shine." We also hear the expressions "swear to God" and "what in God's name."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
There's a thin line in a comedy like this between laughing with awkward adolescents and laughing at them. Rebound could be accused of crossing that line. And while it points out that Big Mac's bullying is inappropriate, intimidation seems to work for her and gets some of the movie's biggest laughs. Ralph vomits in stressful situations. The team plays poker (for chips, not money).
"No matter what the scoreboard says, you're all winners."
How many sports movies have featured that tired-and-true tidbit of coaching wisdom? Start counting. When you hit triple digits you'll begin to feel the déjà vu audiences will experience for 87 minutes in Rebound. (It's a wonder they didn't send the big game into overtime just to stretch out the run time.) This movie literally sweats clichés. The coach in need of redemption. The awful athletes who [suspend disbelief here] turn things around mid-season and somehow make the playoffs. The star player in need of a father figure whose single mom develops a thing with the coach. Rather than give the formula a twist (as Will Ferrell did earlier this summer in Kicking and Screaming), Rebound doesn't attempt a single shot that hasn't been tossed up a hundred times.
That said, it's nice to see Martin Lawrence making a family movie with some redemptive value. His character and story line may be strictly cookie-cutter, but having been forced to review Life, Black Knight, National Security and What's the Worst That Could Happen?, I'll take preprocessed PG pabulum over his earlier work any day. As art, Rebound throws up a brick. As a cheap, rainy-day DVD rental for 10- to 14-year-olds who haven't seen all of this stuff before, it does the job despite committing a few ticky-tack personal fouls.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Martin Lawrence as Coach Roy; Breckin Meyer as Tim Fink; Wendy Raquel Robinson as Jeanie; Horatio Sanz as Mr. Newirth; Megan Mullally as Principal Walsh; Patrick Warburton as the coach of the Vikings
20th Century Fox