REBOUND — * 1/2 — Martin Lawrence, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Breckin Meyer; rated PG (slapstick violence, vulgarity, racial epithets, mild profanity).

The similarities between "Rebound" and this spring's Will Ferrell vehicle "Kicking & Screaming" extend beyond the premise, which is a clear knockoff of such underdog sports comedies as the "Bad News Bears" movies.

The two films also share a cast member, irksome young actor Steven Anthony Lawrence (the Disney Channel's "Even Stevens"). And in both movies, the stars — in this case, Martin Lawrence — aren't really playing a character. Instead, they just "riff," as if they're performing in a skit rather than a scripted narrative.

Lawrence is not nearly as ingratiating or as funny as Ferrell. And judging by the way he slurs his dialogue, you'd almost swear Lawrence was intoxicated while he was performing.

He stars as Roy McCormick, a successful college basketball coach whose showboating and self-destructive tendencies nearly cost him his career. (Roy even blows his top during one game and attacks another school's mascot.)

So Roy's enterprising manager (Breckin Meyer) comes up with an unlikely career rehabilitation plan for the coach: He'll take over the basketball program at his middle school alma mater.

Naturally, the school's principal (Megan Mullally) is thrilled. However, music teacher Jeanie Ellis (Wendy Raquel Robinson), the mother of the team's star player (Oren Williams), is skeptical.

And the double-digit (and nearly triple-digit) losses the team suffers under Roy's leadership suggest that her fears may be justified. To avoid further humiliation, Roy begins recruiting new players and teaching them the basics of the game.

The outcome of all this is never in doubt, and the film's attempts to be cute and cuddly are as insincere as Lawrence's performance. (He also takes on a brief, dual role as an unconventional preacher, which is even less funny than his other shtick.)

The movie even manages to make the usually dependable Patrick Warburton, who plays a rival middle school coach, unfunny.

As for Mullally (TV's "Will & Grace"), she's the one thing the film has going for it, aside from a couple of the kids.

"Rebound" is rated PG for sports-related slapstick violence, crude humor involving bodily functions (vomiting and upset stomachs), and scattered use of racial epithets (in some of the soundtrack songs) and mild profanity (mostly religiously based). Running time: 87 minutes.