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"Bad News Bears"

Directed by Richard Linklater.
Written by Bill Lancaster (who also wrote the 1976 original), Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear and Marcia Gay Harden.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  8/4/05


I literally hadn't seen the original in 20 years, but that didn't matter to me, and it shouldn't to you...if you liked Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa" and you liked director Richard Linklater's other kinda-kids flick "School of Rock", you'll be in hog heaven with the remake of "Bad News Bears."

That's because watching ex-minor league pitcher Morris Buttermaker (Thornton) booze and curse his way through a season trying to coach a bunch of 11- and 12-year-olds is pretty damn funny.  Buttermaker, who apparently only pitched in the majors for less than a month, has turned his life into a big bowl of shit, drinking himself into oblivion every weekend, dating strippers and working as an exterminator somewhere in California.  When a rich lawyer (Marcia Gay Harden) offers to pay Buttermaker big cash to coach a worse-than-dogshit Little League baseball team, Buttermaker takes the check thinking he'll have the chance to do nothing more than drink on the bench.  Of course, he eventually begins to "care" about his players, so with the help of his estranged daughter (Sammi Kane Kraft) and a local ringer named Kelly (Jeffrey Davies), he kicks the booze to the curb--temporarily--to help beat the current kings of the hill, coached by asshold/Under Armour spokesmodel Roy Bullock (Greg Kinnear).

Thornton, not quite as soulless as his "Bad Santa" character but almost as profane (on a PG-13 level), is great once again, from his line delivery to his hilarious outbursts of anger...hopefully, we'll be able to recognize his genius when he's dead and gone, because Thornton always turns in an A+ performance whether the film is good or bad.  Many of the lines that he utters under his breath will end up in cult lore; I am not remembering how many were uttered in the Walter Matthau original, but it don't matter to me as long as they get the laughs.  The kids are great but don't steal the show; Linklater is showing a deft touch when it comes to child actors in his films, since he seems to know that adults are sitting in the audience but finds a way to make the flick entertaining for both the kids and the parents that are forced to come along.  Linklater then gives you scenes like one where the kids and Buttermaker are celebrating at a local Hooter' for the whole family.

Yep, I laughed, and yep, I thought the movie was predictable yet still entertaining, but I didn't walk out thinking that it was the daddy of all daddies.  Kind of like a solid all-around player, "Bad News Bears" doesn't do anything badly, it just doesn't knock it out of the park.  Certainly worth the cash you will drop on it, though, because it really is funny stuff and it's got a little something for the whole family.  It's nice to see movies that are far from PC still get the green light back at the studio.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09