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
Further redundant proof that movies, among other things, were better in the Seventies.
Along with others who were born in the late Sixties, I felt that seeing the new *Bad News Bears* was somehow mandatory, if only to indulge in the guilty pleasure of nostalgia. We all knew it would suck, didn't we? -- but we had to see it anyway.
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.
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