dir. Carr
Opens Fri July 1
Various Theaters

I normally can't stand to be hung over in a movie theater full of children, especially at 10 in the morning on a Saturday--but I put all that aside to join 200 prepubescent African-American kids at a screening of Rebound. Had I been alone with a handful of other snooty film critics, I might have limited my review to smirky Hollywood bashing. I still promise you a little of that, but I have to admit: I enjoyed watching Rebound. Plus, it cured my hangover.

Allow me to hedge by assuring you that Rebound is a forgettable, paint-by-numbers Hollywood one-off that features no remarkable characters, performances, or cinematic moments. Martin Lawrence plays Coach Roy, a famous (and stereotypical) college basketball coach whose temper on the court gets him banned from the league until he can demonstrate compliance. He does this by agreeing to coach a junior high school team, hoping his time with the kids will bring him PR redemption. So then Roy turns the ragtag squad of losers into team players, and everyone transcends to celluloid levels of well adjusted, principle-centered living.

Rebound is so cut-and-paste that I'd rather recommend it for use in a commercial screenwriting class than mock its transparency. The plot moves like clockwork, and the cast is a parade of placeholder characters. That said, some of the child actors had really funny characters (like the awkward band flutist drafted for his puberty-stricken height of six foot two), and also refreshing is Rebound's lack of emotional depth: Every conflict is resolved in under a minute, proving that well-worn emotional manipulation techniques can be therapeutic, at least when offered at a machine-gun pace.

But the best part of the movie was its audience: Every kid in the place sincerely cracked up over it. If you decide to see Rebound, I offer this advice: Leave your ego behind and succumb to the pleasure of the group sentiment.