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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Bad News Bears

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
17 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Because the commodity society can only function on the basis of disembodiment, its members are consumed by a hunger for images of the body, including one's own body image." - Peter Sloterdijk

"The Longest Yard" (1974) with kids, Michael Ritchie's "Bad News Bears" (1976) revolves around a group of young, seemingly incompetent baseball players and the foul mouthed coach (Walter Matthau) who leads them.

The majority of Ritchie's early films focused on the competitiveness and ruthlessness of a then contemporary United States. Consider "Smile", a satire which focused on interstate beauty pageants and which contained the line "Boys get money for making touchdowns, why shouldn't girls get money for being cute?" That question's answer is, in a way, present in "Bad News Bears", which focuses on the way in which sports, and human relations in general, suffer when commodified.

Significantly, all the baseball players on Matthau's team are deemed rejects or incompetents. They're discarded, branded useless by a goal and profit oriented culture. Matthau attempts to build his team into a suitable product, but meets resistance. The kids literally can't play. What Ritchie then goes on to suggest is that this is okay. His multiracial cocktail of kids, like a band of turn-of-the-century immigrants fresh off the boat, reject a world based on gain and push. They make their own American dream, their own community, and then reject the game outright. For the kids, sports is, or should be, a vehicle for creativity, self-expression, affirmation and cultural growth, be its players black or white, male or female (the film's star pitcher is a young girl). This is a one-sided view sports – sport and competition can be viewed as an art, a performance, drama, something aesthetic and refined – but such a stance is necessary for Ritchie's allegory, and was common in sporting movies of the era (see "Slap Shot").

Odd for a "children's film", Ritchie's kids are jaded, foul mouthed, world-weary and lost in a wasteland of Jack-in-the-Boxes, Pizza Huts and McDonalds. They're coarse, obscene, some are on the pill, others are already seeing shrinks and most find themselves surrendering their identities to forces far greater than they are. The adults, meanwhile, remain proudly oblivious to the problems of the kids. Competition triumphs. Let the twerps shape up or ship out.

Ritchie's "Downhill Racer" featured a battle between an egotistical racer who refused to give up his personal values for the larger values of a team and community. "Bears" does something similar. But though it bashes the contradictions between the logic and values of capitalism and the values which the United States as a nation professes to represent (honesty, fair-play, truth, unity, freedom, equality etc), it also celebrates the possibility of personal accomplishment and achievement. The way the film pulls in opposite directions leads to its confused ending, the contradictions of US life far too complex for Ritchie's simple narrative.

Released in 2005, Richard Linklater's "Bad News Bears" is a remake of Ritchie's film. Linklater makes a few changes, and casts Billy Bob Thornton as our foul mouthed coach, but for the most part his film is a shot-for-shot remake of Ritchie's. In both films the "coach" character initially sees his own daughter as but a utensil, his relationship with her a tool used toward a very specific end. Likewise, both films find their kids becoming a kind of "microcosm of the disenfranchised" (minorities, third worlders, girls, women, working class kids, alienated geeks etc), the children working together to reject American-bred success-at-all-costs competitiveness on behalf of their own little half-baked revolution. Like Ritchie, Linklater then sells anarchy and community under the ironic gaze of a patriotic American flag. Such middle fingers clash uneasily with the needs of a mainstream movie, though, as both versions of the "Bad News Bears" see the kids simultaneously losing AND winning, our heroes jointly losing their baseball match and celebrated for thumbing their nose at traditional sportsmanship and WASP manners. This kind of "have it both ways" ending was also typical in the 1970s.

While Linklater is a gentle soul who clearly identifies with his material, his remake is nevertheless much too similar to its predecessor. Linklater's also stuck in a world of Little Leagues and suburban misfits, when today the situation he delineates is far more amplified. Today, it's not just a national pastime which has become a showcase for corporate ownership and corporate values. No, contemporary human beings are so colonised that everything - from our conceptions of time to even the simplest human actions - is now conceptualised in terms of the logic of capitalism. Our very language and thought processes reinforce a tendency to view and treat all objects, relationships, and conditions as presumptively subject to exchange. This mania is treated well by directors like Olivier Assayas. Linklater, meanwhile, remains stuck in the 1970s.

7.9/10 - Worth one viewing.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Faithful with no surprises.

Author: bobsgrock from United States
14 January 2013

Quite often, the quality of a movie depends heavily on the expectations of the audience going into see it. In the case of the 2005 remake of The Bad News Bears, expectations were most likely lower than the average baseball film. Though it is helmed by the enormously talented and creative Richard Linklater, little of his talent is utilized in this otherwise bland and, at times, disjointed tale of a group of ragtag Little League rejects who form together to create an unlikely winning combination.

Billy Bob Thornton as the alcoholic coach Morris Buttermaker is at times likable and sympathetic while at others he is a complete and utter wretched person. Though this would work in some scripts, here it feels cheap and rings false, with Buttermaker and most of the rest of the cast being used by the plot as puppets. Hardly any of these characters' actions feel genuine or reasonable; rather they seem to be acting in a movie.

The best part of the film, the championship game which takes up the last twenty minutes or so, reveals some nice touches but still is not quite capable of capturing the right balance between salty adolescence and sympathetic losers. Greg Kinnear's antagonist also seems to fall into the all-too big category of bad guys being bad simply for the sake of being the protagonist's obstruction. Whether this is a better film than the original 1976 must be decided by the audience, but it certainly fails to be any more surprising or memorable.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's just "Bad Santa" with baseball, but I'll buy it

Author: Sandcooler from Belgium
28 April 2012

I've never seen the original "Bad News Bears", which is probably why I managed to enjoy this movie. I didn't get stuck comparing the two versions, I saw this remake as a movie in it's own right. With that said, it still isn't a great film no matter how you look at it. Billy Bob Thornton mouthing of to kids is a bit that never gets old, but all of this stuff has been done better in "Bad Santa". And eventually they find out he's pretty kind behind his rough exterior, yadda yadda yadda. Luckily there are still some hilarious lines worked in here and there, the writing occasionally take a break from lazily connecting the dots and actually come up with something original. The kids also act surprisingly well, although I say that about pretty much every child actor who doesn't look at the camera more than twice a scene. "Bad News Bears" isn't anything you haven't seen before, but it's entertaining I guess.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Very funny

Author: dario_e from Mexico
19 November 2010

I enjoy it a lot with my son, it has the exact combination to make us laugh together, I'd like to see more movies like this, full of mischiefs and many high quality baseball scenes, is one my favorites movies. And doesn't have the typical happy ending of all the movies, I like each of the characters and my son identify strongly with them. The director really know about baseball and was helped by baseball professionals who made the scenes was very real. I like the movie's message about stop pressing the kids on the field and start having fun of this beautiful sport, and giving the chance to play to all kids and let them have his part of the glory, i really love this movie

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

These Bears ain't so bad.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
1 January 2010

You know, sometimes a low expectation of something can really give you a pleasant surprise. This Richard Linklater remake of a great 1976 Walter Matthau movie isn't close to being brilliant or remotely fresh. In fact the term "if it ain't broke then why fix it" springs to mind, because an update wasn't needed at all. But to me, and a few other hardy {foolhardy} souls, this Bad News Bears is immensely funny and far from hindered by its predictability {Linklater and his team stick rigidly to the original film}. And while nobody, and I mean nobody, can do sarcasm and hang-dawg like Matthau, Billy Bob Thornton is no bad substitute to have coming off the bench. His delivery of some truly priceless lines alone make the film worth watching. That he is at ease with the array of child actors on show also eases the film thru its sticky {potentially sickly} moments.

In a sports based genre that is full of like for like pictures, The Bad News Bears original is still one of its acerbic highlights. This remake does fall well short in the class department, but on a gags to laughs ratio? It nicely hits the ball out of the park.

5.5/10 to many weary observers, 7.5/10 for me and the rest of the Morris Buttermilk appreciation society.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Linklater really disappointed me with this film

Author: Argemaluco from Argentina
19 September 2006

Richard Linklater is a great director and movies like Waking life and Before sunset show it.But Linklater made false moves with The Newton boys and Bad news bears,the movie I will talk about now.Linklater really disappointed me with this film.This is the third commercial movie Linklater.His second commercial movie (the first one was the previously mentioned The Newton boys) was School of rock,a great movie. However, Bad news bears is absolutely tedious and unfunny.Bad news bears is really a disappointment and a false move on Linklater's career.But now,I am very interested in watching A scanner darkly and Fast food nation,the new Linklater's movies.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Vastly inferior to the original, but decent enough

Author: Tecun_Uman from United States
5 April 2007

There was no way that this film would be as good as the classic from 1976, no way. That being said, I had rather low expectations. I mean, were they just going to remake the original but with different actors? Would they do an original take on the story? Well, they kind of stay loyal to the original with a few variations. Billy Bob Thornton is no Walter Matthau, but he gives a good effort and has some great lines. The real weakness with film is in the supporting cast, which is vastly inferior to the original. Greg Kinnear pales in comparison to Vic Morrow and is rather marginalized compared to the original. However, the real problem with this film involves the kids. Tatum O'Neil and the kids that starred in the original were very accomplished and so much more entertaining. The Bears in this film are just weak. None are very accomplished as actors and it shows, big time. Not one gives a really decent performance. Added to this is the poor edit job. I mean, we see the Bears lose every game, then, they win one game and in the next scene, a character says we are one game away from the Championship. What!? How is that possible? I guess the more I talk about this movie, the more I realize that it is vastly inferior to the original, despite the Thornton performance.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Somethings should not be remade

Author: DarkVulcan29 ( from United States
22 June 2006

Anybody remember Psycho(1998) with Vince Vaughn, I know what your are saying, I don't either. This movie is also an example. I saw this one in theaters, and thought it was okay, but then I saw the 1976 version on DVD. And thought what was the point of remaking this. The thing about the original, it was interesting, there were things you usually didn't see in kids movies at that time. Now don't get me wrong Billy Bob Thornton is funny as the new Morris Buttermaker, I like that he did not do a imitation of Walter Mathau(the original Buttermaker). He plays the role his own funny way. Walter was funny also. The kids did pretty well also. Other then that this movie is pretty pointless.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Billy Bob Thornton Steals The Show

Author: ray-280 from Philadelphia
21 August 2005

And therein lies the problem.

This "remix" of the original was hardly surprising to find, and even less surprising to find that it doesn't measure up to the original, but what could? It might have been better to change sports or venues to separate this one from the original classic, but even without doing that, the movie didn't have to stray so far from the story's roots. The PC influences are strong: the bad kids aren't as bad, even if they are more brazen in some of their behaviors, and Greg Kinnear lacked the evil intensity of the borderline child abuser that Vic Morrow brought to the screen (and which his son the star pitcher hinted at even further). The film focused way too much on the adults and not enough on the kids.

The story is strong enough to make the movie tolerable, but it wasn't done justice this time around.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A remake that is inferior to the 1976 version in most respects.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
19 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like Billy Bob Thornton as an actor in most his movies. I did not like his role in "Bad Santa" and I do not like his role here as former major league pitcher (2/3 of an inning with a 36 ERA) Morris Buttermaker, who is hired to manage a down and out incompetent team the (bad news) Bears. This, in addition to his regular job as an exterminator of various pests. (One scene he is shown dumping dead rats into a dumpster near the ball field.)

Greg Kinnear is good as Roy Bullock, the manager of the Yankees, the winners of the league championship the prior year, and clear favorites to repeat.

One bright spot in the movie is former unknown Sammi Kane Kraft, who got the part of Amanda Whurlitzer via an open audition of real baseball girls. She is a pitcher, and a good one at that, which makes her role very believable. She also did a very credible acting job, as the daughter of a woman Buttermaker used to be married to.

As an aside, young actor Ridge Canipe played Toby Whitewood. Canipe was in another 2005 movie, "Walk the Line", as the very young Johnny Cash who was fishing when his brother was injured by the wood cutting machine.

I didn't like this remake because it was too full of fussing and bad language, both by the kids and by Buttermaker, to the point where it became tiresome. Maybe kids behave like that nowadays but I don't like it, and I don't enjoy watching a movie that depicts such bad behavior. I would not recommend it to any of my friends, but maybe to a few enemies!

SPOILER -- Buttermaker gets Amanda to pitch, and finds another kid who can field and hit very well. Plus he coaches the other kids into better players. In the climax of the big game against the Yankees, it looks like the Bears will win, until Buttermaker takes out some of the stars to let all the kids play, even the one in a wheelchair. It still looks like they might win in the bottom of the 6th, but what looks like a home run is caught, and they lose 8 to 7.

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