dir. Steve Carr
Opens Fri July 1.
After a quick jaunt with animal cruelty, superstar college-basketball coach Roy (played by Martin Lawrence), whom I'll be referring to as "Fathead" from now on, finds that his once-striving career, littered with product endorsements and fame, is on very thin ice. The ice is so thin, in fact, Fathead faces banishment from the league if he doesn't prove himself capable of coaching a team without losing streaks, temper tantrums, and making a complete spectacle of himself and the entire sport of basketball.
The new team he's assigned to coach while on probation? The Mount Vernon Smelters, his junior-high alma mater. Predictably, the Smelters are hardly the career-saving champions Fathead was hoping for; they are, in fact, a gaggle of awkward middle-school kids with low self-image and zero talent. But, manned with enough patience, a few exciting sports montages, and the burning desire to get into one of the players's mom's pants, Coach Fathead's convinced he can turn Mount Vernon's losers into Mount Vernon's winners. Sadly, though, he's really not all that funny while doing it. Unless you're 12. Then he's fucking hilarious.
There is one saving grace in this sludgy puddle of kids' movie mediocrity, however, and that is the genius of Fred Stoller. Stoller is a far-too-underrated character actor who's appeared in every sitcom ever made (including Murphy Brown, The Drew Carey Show, Friends, and Six Feet Under), and also penned a few episodes of Seinfeld. As Late Carl, the slightly retarded referee, Stoller's performance during the final playoff game (because, duh, you know the team miraculously makes the playoffs) is the highlight of the movie, and includes the two funniest lines uttered in the otherwise intolerable 86 minutes. ■