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Bad News Bears

Genre: , ,

Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden, Timmy Deters, Sammi Kane Kraft

Director: Richard Linklater

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 13th, 2005
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Overall Grade: C

Bad News Bears

Review By: Staff

Click Here to Read the Theatrical Review!

Click Here For Our Interview with Billy Bob Thornton

Bad News Bears

The point of making this movie is lost on me. The original was ok, based solely on the "lovable grumpy slob" performance turned in by Walter Matthau, and the attitudes of the children, which were largely unprecedented in family entertainment at the time (it was filmed before Animal House and contained a healthy bit of language and childhood depravity). All in all, Matthau's likeability and the rascally nature of the children gave the original a sense of heart and team. This remake doesn't have Walter Matthau (he passed away a few years back), and it is no longer shocking considering similar movies that have come out since the original in 1976. More importantly, this remake lacks the heart of the original.

I suppose I can see why this movie would have seemed a good idea to less-than-intelligent and not-so-artistically-inclined studio heads. You take the writing duo of Bad Santa (a hilarious Christmas-themed down and dirty romp), bring in Billy Bob Thornton to play a grumpy, dirty loser, and hire Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused) to direct. Admittedly, Thornton is the only actor in Hollywood today who can play a grumpy, dirty loser and make him laughable, despicable, and lovable all at the same time. Bad Santa, with credit going to the writing duo, proved that he can push the limit way past normalcy and decency and be hilarious while doing it; insulting people, stealing, drinking non-stop, and screwing anything that shows interest. Linklater, in his own right, has shown talent through the years, especially when dealing with adolescence and the politics of youth. Those are three pretty solid pieces to build a funny, dirty comedy, but it doesn't work in this case. The main reason Bad News Bears fails to succeed is the 'PG-13' rating!

This movie clearly should have been an 'R,' and a hard 'R' at that; much as Bad Santa was. The 'PG-13' rating tames everything, slowing the movie down and making it boring. It also kills many of the jokes that could have killed, but instead fall flat or inspire only chuckles.

The concept is not high-art. A total loser of a man, and ex-ball player to boot, Morris Buttermaker (Billy Bob), is brought in by the single mother (Marcia Gay Harden) of a little boy, to coach his Little League baseball team. The catch: the team is comprised of all the kids who none of the other teams in the league wanted. Why were these kids not chosen? It could be their size (tiny/fat), their extremely aggressive personalities, their lack of talent, or for one poor boy, the wheelchair he's confined to due to being a paraplegic. Marica Gay Harden's

single mother/lawyer character finds this to be reprehensible, and sues to get the kids on a team so that they can compete. She hires Billy Bob based on his background in baseball, but if she truly cared about the kids, she would have known better. He shows up to the first practice with a case of Lowenbrau. He cracks open the first one, drains half out, and pours in C&C to fill her back up. The remainder of the movie progresses as such: Bears suck — Buttermaker doesn't try — Bears lose embarrassingly — 'Villainous' coach (Greg Kinnear) ridicules them and says they should drop out of league — Bears call coach out, want to quit — Buttermaker tries harder — Buttermaker gets a young girl he knows to join team — Bears get better — Buttermaker begins to care — Bears win game "” Talented town rebel joins team "” Buttermaker bangs single mother — Championship approaches — Buttermaker wants to win really badly, loses faith in lesser players and himself — Bears fight amongst themselves — Bears miraculously make Championship game vs. "villainous" coach — Buttermaker finds redemption — Bears find redemption — Everyone drinks a non-alcoholic beer and celebrates at Hooters.

Richard Linklater. Are you kidding me? This is the same man that directed School of Rock and Dazed and Confused, both good comedies, and Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, both highly artistic films. What the hell is this crap? First, you let the studio force you into a 'PG-13' rating, then you cast kids that can't act, then you commit to a terrible pacing and length for the movie. All very poor choices. I'm disappointed. There's really nothing to commend with his directing, except for his use of classic rock, which he uses in most his movies. Billy Bob, Marcia Gay Harden, and Greg Kinnear have fun with their roles, but they're underwritten and the movie is bad, which reflects upon them. Having two Oscar-nominated actors, and one Oscar-winning actress, in a movie should mean something, but this movie proves that it means nothing. The children all come across as jerks, nothing more. In the original, as I wrote earlier, they were rascally, giving them an edge, but their misbehavior didn't deny them a sense of humanity. The remake posterizes the kids as cardboard cut-out jerks. The fat kid in Bad Santa was much better and far more believable, and it was funnier when Billy Bob made fun of him.

After the first 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes of the movie, I hoped it was over, and it seemed as if it should have been. Why the hell stretch this concept into a two-hour movie, with the final Championship game between the Bears

and the hated Yankees (Little League, of course) taking more than 30 minutes to play? I was watching the movie in my own apartment and I felt trapped because I knew I had to watch the entire story methodically play out. Two friends began watching the movie with me and left repeatedly to buy food and drinks, and walk my dog, returning only to ask why I was still watching the movie. I had no reasonably sane answer. But, in retrospect, it was all worth it so that I can warn you not to waste your time and to rent Bad Santa instead; it's wittier and dirtier. Or, if you're interested in baseball, watch the original The Bad News Bears, or Bull Durham, or The Sandlot. In short, this movie should be smacked on the arse and told, in a stern voice, "No!"

Special Features:

Commentary "” Richard Linklater and Writing Duo

Do you really think I wanted to watch the movie again, regardless of what Richard Linklater or the writers had to say?

Featurettes/Deleted Scenes/Outtakes :

Run-of-the-Mill. They're all the same, discussing aspects of the movie and the baseball played in it. Everyone(producers/writers/actors/director) talks about how good the movie is and what a great concept the remake is, but they're all full of it, trying to sell their product after the fact.

Movie Grade: D (I've said everything there is to say "” eject this movie directly into the nearest trash receptacle!)

DVD Features Grade: B (lots of interviews, but everyone blows their own horn and talks about how good the movie is. At least Billy Bob is funny to watch and look at, like any redneck with money.)

Overall Grade: C

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