Bad News Bears (2005)
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So...based on that theory, Billy Bob Thornton's rationale for the remake of "The Bad News Bears" was that the original had too many letters in the title (in a bold and highly daring move reminiscent of Ed Wood at his finest, Thornton decided to drop "The", changing it simply to "Bad News Bears"), not enough swearing...and a kid in a wheelchair. Oh, and he changes enemy Yankee pitcher's last name from "Turner" to "Bullok" for reasons unbeknownst to anyone but himself. With revolutionary alterations such as these, don't be surprised if you pick up the rental box half a dozen times while watching the movie to make absolutely sure that you have indeed rented the correct film.
Basically, the plot can be summed up as "Bad Santa coaches a group of misfit kids". Yawn. We've seen this role, this performance, from Billy Bob Thornton one too many times. Thornton wants to bowl us over with the 'shocking' vulgarity of youth, but a trip to "Hooters" and Tanner teaching a boy in a wheelchair to curse both turn out to be so lightweight that it is likely that only the Reverend Jerry Falwell would take offense.
At best, the casting was marginal, and at worst, the audience is forced to wonder if the director actually auditioned the kids or merely closed his eyes and chanted 'Eenie, Meenie, Mynie, Mo" while holding a stack of acting resumes. Sammi Kane Kraft (as Amanda) was a great baseball player with limited acting ability, and Timmy Deters was only modestly successful in trying to recreate the role of Tanner Boyle. Tyler Patrick Jones as Timmy Lupus was far and away the most talented of what basically amounted to a mediocre cast of child actors, but he was utterly wasted in this film and was limited to a few one-liners that must have ended up on the cutting room floor from "Bad Santa". Naturally, Thornton is no match for the venerable Walter Matthau as Buttermaker. Whereas Matthau was irascible and cantankerous in a lovable 'Grandpa's dipping in the cider again' kind of way, Thornton's version of Buttermaker is creepy enough to make us think of adequate background checks and the stupidity of parents who would willingly leave their children alone with him.
Per his film tradition in his post "Sling Blade" days, Thornton goes out of his way to remove any heartfelt sentiment from the plot, and thus the friendship between Timmy Lupus and Tanner Boyle never materializes. That adds to what is perhaps the most irritating part of the film: the introduction of a new player (Tony Gentile as Matthew Hooper). It is an unnecessary plot device, possibly added only because the always classy Thornton had some good 'kid in wheelchair' jokes that he was just itching to use, and adds a touch of surrealism to a movie that should be imminently grounded in realism. In fact, Thornton changes one of the most touching moments of the original movie by handing it to Hooper (a character who, let's face it, has no redeeming qualities other than the fact that he's in a wheelchair) in one highly unrealistic scene; he thereby successfully strips even more of the heart away from the original film. Which, judging from Thornton's film-making history, was probably exactly what he intended to do.
In short, there are undoubtedly worse remakes out there ("War of the Worlds" and "Bewitched" come to mind), but not many. If you're thinking of renting this film because you're desperate for some true seventies banality, allow me to suggest that you save the money and instead try catching either the rerun of "Alice" where Flo says "Kiss my grits" for the eighteenth time or the action-packed episode of "My Three Sons" where Fred MacMurray lights his pipe. If you choose to rent the film anyway...well, don't say I didn't give you any other viable options.
In the original, Kelly and Amanda looked 12. In the remake, they looked 17. Watch them walking with the other Bears, they are about a foot taller.
The Coach Turner character in the first was clearly defined. He was an over aggressive sports dad pushing his son and team relentlessly, eventually melting down and hitting his son in public. The audience was never given a feel for the new Turner, except that he was somewhat wimpy, but unreal as far as any person anyone has ever met.
They removed the scene of Turner hitting his son, then telling his wife that it was because Joey could have killed Engelbert. In reality, Turner was p'd off because his son disobeyed him. In the remake, Turner seems genuinely concerned for Engelbert.
There was almost no character development in the remake. When I saw the first, I felt like I knew the major characters. In the remake, we learned very little. For instance, Lupas in the original was a painfully shy kid who would prefer to be left completely unnoticed. In the remake, he was just a weird kid who had trouble catching.
The emotion was totally gone. The scene where Joey wouldn't throw the ball to put Engelbert out to get back at his father; the scene where Lupas begs not to be put in and Buttermaker tells him he didn't come into this life to watch from the bench; the scene where Lupas finally catches the ball to get the Bears out of the inning; the scene where Kelly gets thrown out at the plate; I could go on forever.
There seem to be strippers in the remake for no apparent reason. The Buttermaker character is supposed to be a sad loner type. To think that Buttermaker is dating strippers take a lot of the sympathy away from him.
Ultimately, there was no magic in the second one. And quite frankly no reason to remake this movie. It occurred to me that the producers of the remake didn't quite get the point of the first one. Or they are insulting teenagers by not believing they are smart enough to get it.
I thought that changing the sponsor to a strip club was funny. And having the representative who sued the league be a woman was a nice update. Other than that, I see nothing where this movie adds to what I already saw. And I didn't even list half of what was worse about it.
If you honestly thought the new version was better, can I ask specifically what you thought was flawed about the original and how the remake did it better?
The movie feels like it has split personalities. There is a ton of swearing and adult humor that would definitely NOT appeal to parents of younger children, but many of the jokes just weren't funny to me because they were aimed at the younger children.
The movie is not terrible, but its not good either. It is simply a forgettable movie, which is a shame because I think Richard Linklater is a great director and Billy Bob Thorton seems like a natural when it comes to comedic timing.
Let it be said at once that Billy Bob Thornton as Coach Buttermaker is quite a come-down from the immortal Walter Matthau in the same role. Since the script of this new version is quite identical to the original, much of the degradation displayed here must be put at the feet of Thornton, a notorious ad-libber. None of us, young or old, need to be subjected to exclamations such as "You guys look like the last s--t I took." Or to hear copious references to Greg Kinnear's family jewels.
But whether through the script or through Thornton's egregious improvising, director Richard Linklater reveals a complete lack of control. Evidently, the best that he feels he can do with this material is to allow it to subside deeper into crassness than the original. The whole enterprise becomes a dreary exercise in upping the ante: Matthau's Buttermaker was a pool cleaner; Thornton's Buttermaker is a rat-exterminator . . . in the '76 version, the Bears are sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds; in the 2005 version, they're sponsored by a strip-club. Get the idea? What had been a gritty, rather incisive look at everyday Americana has become merely an exercise in crudity. This degeneration of standards can legitimately be argued away as the eternal complaint of the old, but the feeling persists that the original *Bad News Bears* was still made for KIDS, despite the more realistic dialog, situations, and characters. (And Matthau was never a scene-stealer; Tatum O'Neal shone just as brightly as he did. And rightly so.) The Little Leaguers in this film are sadly subordinate to the leering Coach -- guess who the intended audience is? (Hint: not kids.)
By the way -- speaking of come-downs -- the iconic role of bad-boy Kelly Leak as portrayed by the super-iconic Jackie Earl Haley has been utterly neutered, here. The new Kelly is played by some incipient Calvin Klein model pretending to be a skate-punk. Pee-yew, man. Hey Jackie Earl, wherever you are: your status as the preeminent prepubescent bad-ass is, like, totally safe.
1 star out of 10.
Someone else commented that there were long pauses left in for laughing. I'm not sure where he lives, but the people in my theater were all laughing their butts off most of the movie. Maybe it's an age difference - this was a mostly 20-something crowd enjoying this film.
Under no circumstances would I want my children seeing this film until they're at least 15, though. It IS an adult film and I don't think that kids need another movie to get bad ideas from. An R rating would have suited the film better, especially if it meant raunchier scenes.
All in all I enjoyed myself. It's not a film for everyone, that's for sure - but if you enjoyed "Bad Santa", you'll probably like this film.
See the original. It remains a masterpiece and one of the greatest sports movies ever made. This is a cheap remake that should have never been made. So many great scripts and premises have been screwed up, why not remake those and start with JJ Abrams original screenplay of "Regarding Henry" another movie where a top notch director did not do his best work. Now that should be remade how Abrams envisioned it.
He's never written anything better, nor have most of the rest of us.