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Billy Bob Thornton
as Buttermaker

Greg Kinnear
as Bullock

Marcia Gay Harden
as Mrs. Whitewood

Sammi Kraft
as Amanda Whurlitzer

Ridge Canipe
as Toby Whitewood

Timmy Deters
as Tanner

Carter Jenkins
as Joey Bullock

Brandon Craggs
as Engelberg

Jeff Davies
as Kelly Leak

Written by Bill Lancaster and Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

Directed by Richard Linklater

Running Time: 1:41

Rated PG-13
rude behavior, language throughout,
some sexuality & thematic elements

B-


THE OPENING

Bad News Bears was a decent enough comedy that thankfully stayed away from the cheesiness you might expect from this kind of film.

THE STORY

Buttermaker is a former pro ball player who has now decided to coach a little league team, made up of misfits who couldn't play on any other team. Buttermaker doesn't care all that much, he just wants to get paid and drink. The kids sort of care, but at the same time, know they're overmatched and hate being picked on. So Buttermaker recruits his daughter and finds another misfit to add to the team, and as you might expect, they go on a major winning streak and take the league by storm.

THE REVIEW

Not a whole lot of plot involved in Bad News Bears. Whether you saw the original or not, you knew that this team of ragtag kids was gonna come together and play well and contend for the league title. You know that everyone involved is going to have some sort of epiphany about their lives and what they should or shouldn't be doing. So story-wise, you know exactly how this movie is going to play out. What makes it funny is Billy Bob Thornton's sarcastic dry humor, and the fact that the kids say PG-13 rated things. One of the kids (I can't remember the character name but he's the one with the strange looking long blond hair) was easily the funniest simply because he wanted to fight everyone. There's a scene about halfway through where the Bears are getting their butts handed to them in a game, and the kid is playing shortstop and every time an opposing playing rounds seconds, he throws his glove at them or trips them or just plain jumps them and starts beating them. And it happens throughout the entire film. I don't think there's a scene he's involved in where he isn't throwing something at someone. Its stuff like that, that makes me laugh.

Billy Bob has got this kind of role down pat. He could sleepwalk through this movie and still hit it on the head. He says a lot of things with a straight face that make the other characters do double takes and I also find that kind of stuff funny. There isn't much setup with his character - why he's doing this for instance - but I found that there wasn't much setup for most of the characters. Who was Amanda? Was it his daughter? Or the daughter of some woman he married a long time ago? Or did he just live with her? What was up with Kelly Leak? What was his story? There was something to do with his father, but it was never explained. And in one scene where he was about to quit, Billy Bob yells at him about having father issues, and he goes ahead and hits a home run to win the game. I never got any sense about any of the characters, and that kind of bothered me, but it didn't take away from the movie.

This is the second film in which the director, Richard Linklater, had a story that involved kids and could have turned into a schmaltzy, feel good, let's learn a lesson story. Instead, as with School of Rock, he showed you the good side, but didn't focus on it. Everyone knows what the redemption is, so there's no need to show it constantly. Drunk guy yells at kids but learns they're people too. Great, move on. That's what I like about Linklater. These two movies could have been over-the-top but he kept them on a nice even level and still made it funny. What I didn't like, and I can't believe this was let through in the film, was when the kids batted out of order during the final game! How did no one notice this? There was an insert shot where you see Billy Bob and the umpire going over the lineup card, and you can see someone is confused, but come on... It was so obvious that Kelly Leak batted out of order, I can't fathom how they let it into the movie and not at least had the opposing coach say something. Speaking of the opposing coach, Greg Kinnear was the 'bad guy' in the film and he did his usual decent job. He's a strange guy that Kinnear. I still can't stop thinking of him as the guy who hosted Talk Soup.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So overall, Bad News Bears was a decent, funny movie. It won't win awards any time soon, but it has a lot of good laughs and is worth seeing.

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reviewed 07/20/05

© 2005 Wolfpack Productions

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