A nameless young character goes into travels to the country, meeting some acquaintances and strangers as well, having banal conversations, dedicating his existence into daily mundane ... See full summary »
Morris Buttermaker, an alcoholic pest removal worker and former professional baseball player (for a very short time), is recruited to coach and train a failing baseball team of 12-year-olds which is about to be thrown out of the league. Written by
Rock 'n roll update--not all that different, but dispiriting...
Unskilled, belligerent group of young boys on a losing Little League baseball team get an alcoholic coach who eventually cleans up their act--and his own. Any film-buff well acquainted with the 1976 Michael Ritchie film "The Bad News Bears" will watch this remake in a perpetual state of deprivation. For every new ingredient added (a kid in a wheelchair, Hooters waitresses on the sidelines, a skateband interlude), there's a classic sequence dropped, funny lines omitted, a bracing sense of importance missing, and uncharismatic, non-plussed child actors who walk through their roles colorlessly. Of course, Billy Bob Thornton is a terrific substitute for Walter Matthau, but Matthau didn't carry the original film all by himself, and Thornton isn't fully in-character anyway (he's just breezing through). The whole early morning feel of Southern California Little League is missing, and the urgency of the original is gone, too (those kids had something riding on these games). Director Richard Linklater obviously was fond of the 1976 version, but he knows the notes without hearing the music; he supplies updated comedic touches without seeing the relevancy, and his tone and narrative are doggedly straightforward (except for the strange opening sequence, which immediately gets the picture off on the wrong foot). A sad botch. *1/2 from ****
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