Bad News Bears

Cover Art and Menus:
I actually really like the cover art for this DVD. I like the semi-caricature look of the characters and the fact that it’s a drawing turns me on even more..:) It’s a fun movie with a lot of attitude and it’s got the cover to match. It’s rare that I approve of DVD cover art, so mark the date and time.
The menus are just the standard boring still photos of characters and easily navigated links to the different features, settings, and extras.

Features: 6/10

  • Commentary By Director and Co Screenplay Writers – This is a director who wants to believe in every project he works on. He won’t take a movie unless he thinks he’s the only one who can do it, so as you listen you can tell he truly gets his heels dug in with The Bears and even though it’s kind of a fluffy little flick, he takes it very seriously. Writers are good to listen to since they are the ones who give birth to the dialogue and most of the action. These guys are funny as well, they wrote Bad Santa so you can imagine their take on things will always have a bit of a dark side, which makes a story about a little league baseball team even stranger and more amusing, if you appreciate that kind of humor.
  • Featurettes – These little bits and pieces offer up a few interviews with the cast and crew along with the sports experts who helped make the on screen baseball games look authentic. I like the tiny documentary style extras, but they are too short and they are missing something. I would love to have seen interviews with original cast members from the first film, how that one got made, even to see the writers and director would have been cool. I guess Tatum O’Neal wasn’t available, Walter Matthau sadly is no longer with us, and the kid who played Tanner has grown up to be the ex-childhood actor no one can find. All that nostalgia is just going to fade into obscurity along with most of the other people in the 1976 original Bad News Bears.
  • Deleted Scenes – Nothing too important cut out of the final film, as usual. No big plot changes or sadly missed opportunities to see Thornton be a scoundrel.
  • Outtakes – Those crazy movie stars messing up their lines..I sure hope they dock their pay for that..:)
  • Video Baseball Cards – A suitable little bonus for anyone who wants to take the time to read through every “baseball card” for the cast members. Click a card and it zooms in to, some text about the actor and a little video of them introducing themselves. So innovative, and yet so uninspired. I like the idea, but it could have been more exciting with clips from the movie, or interviews with each person, or anything really to make it more worth the time to go through them all.

The Movie: 8/10:
To start off on a positive note, if you loved the original, you may not LOVE this new version. I’m positive. There’s something about Walter Matthau that gave Morris Buttermaker that certain gruffness without being sleazy that Billy Bob Thornton just doesn’t have. I really enjoy watching Thornton, but I have to admit he has some kind of sleaze factor built in and when he takes a role that pushes that particular talent just ever so slightly, well, you get a modern gruffness that you want to keep away from your teenage daughter, if you know what I mean.

The story is the same, a rag tag group of kids forming a little league baseball team. They each have something distinctly annoying about them that gives them that collective loveable charm we all love to cheer for in these underdog movies. Well, charm might be a strong word.

One kid is prone to violence and cussing up a storm. I think that’s part of what appeals to people about this story, kids get to say shit a lot. One kid is shy and lethargic to the point of being nearly comatose. Not really the baseball type, but funny. One boy is the standard overweight kid who gets picked on and bullied for no other reason than that he’s a big kid, which I despise personally, but hey, if you like teaching your kids to be mean to people based on how they look, go for it.

One kid is in a wheelchair, yes a wheelchair playing baseball. It’s the new millennium people, get with it. We can now make fun of and berate people with disabilities, haven’t you heard? They don’t make it easy on him with Buttermaker’s lack of compassion and painfully apolitically correctness at the helm. But you can’t feel sorry for these kids no matter what their own personal quirks may be, they give as much grief as they get from their down and out coach.

That’s one thing I admire (admire is a strong word) about Buttermaker. He is what he is. He drinks beer while coaching little league, carries dead rats in his cooler, dates women Hugh Hefner would be jealous of, and doesn’t even come close to apologizing for any of his bad behavior…except to one person.

In the middle of the little league dramas, the coaching with attitude, and the all too frequent sexual reference, Buttermaker rebuilds a lost relationship with his ex-step daughter, his star pitcher. It’s not sappy and touching, but it’s got enough heart to make you want them to mend their fences and for him to take the responsibility of being someone this girl looks up to, not just the washed out ex-all most pro baseball player everyone else sees him as. Don’t look for tear jerking scenes or big revelations, that ain’t happening. It’s a slow process for Morris to come around to the idea that clinging to his hardened personality isn’t the way to be. He might, just might, not want to be alone all the time.

Don’t hope for a clean cut kid flick when you and the kiddies sit down on Saturday afternoon to watch The Bad News Bears (2005). There are bad words, bad behavior, scantily clad women, kids drinking beer (non-alcoholic of course), and some bad bad adult behavior that rings all too true. That might just be the thing you don’t want your kids to see. The truth about grown ups is that they are mostly jerks, present company excluded of course. The best example is one of my favorite actors, Greg Kinnear. He’s brilliant as the jerko dad coach who takes himself and his little league championship way way to seriously. And then there’s Marsha Gay Harding who plays the over achieving mother to the hilt with her law degree, homemade flavored cooking oils and mantra, “how do I find the time.”..hahaha She is also a high light of this movie for me.

It’s a remake of a classic, and that’s hard shoes to fill. Like I said, if you loved loved the first one, you may think this is a cheap rip off with a lot of modern bits tossed in to cash in on a new audience, which is mostly true. On the flip side, if you haven’t seen first one you will have a good time with the latest version. Between Thornton, the cast of kids, Harding, and Kinnear, this is worth a watch either way.

I laughed a lot and that’s worth something I suppose. It’s the kids and their circumstance as underdogs that makes this a story I appreciate so much and that does boost the score up a tiny bit from the very average place it holds in the big scheme of things. The film itself isn’t great or even that memorable, but while I was watching it I had a good time, I think.

Value: 4/10
21 bucks is a bit steep for this DVD if you ask me. I would like to see it for a more magical number like $8.88 or $9,99, you know something those discount stores like to offer on a good day. This DVD hasn’t got a lot of extras and the movie isn’t a true classic in any way shape or form. I recommend renting it for a quick flick viewing some evening, (children optional) and later when they hopefully do a special edition with stuff about the original film I would possibly be willing to buy it.

Overall Score 7/10