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Bad News Bears (2005)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie features kids cursing, behaving badly, fighting, and drinking non-alcoholic beer. Their poor role model is their coach, who drinks (to the point of passing out), smokes, swears, hangs out at a strip club, makes racist and sexist comments (as well as ignorant wisecracks about a boy in a wheelchair and another who is overweight), and teaches one of the kids to make martinis. As the coach works as an exterminator, the movie also features visual jokes about dead rats and insects. Though the coach learns to be a more tolerant and mature adult, he remains ornery, and has one-night sex with the mother of one of his players.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Retired minor league pitcher Morris Buttermaker (Billy Bob Thornton) played 2/3 of an inning in the majors, at a time "long ago and far away." Sarcastic, frustrated, and frequently drunk, he agrees to coach a Little League team that includes players of various abilities (one is in a wheelchair, another is overweight, another short and puny, etc.) and backgrounds ("I got the damn League of Nations here," he grumps). As Buttermaker squares off against the rival team's coach, a bully named Bullock (Greg Kinnear), he also comes to respect his own team, as much for their oddities as for their spirit. Everyone's happy when the team begins winning, after Buttermaker recruits a great pitcher, his ex's daughter, Amanda (Sammi Kane Kraft, a real life Little League pitcher) and a great hitter, long-haired, just-out-of-juvie skater boi Kelly (Jeffrey Davies), who has a crush on Amanda.
Is it any good?
This lackluster remake of the much-loved 1976 Walter Matthau movie doesn't bring much new to the table. Nostalgic for a time when little kids uttering obscenities was considered hilarious mischief, BAD NEWS BEARS is surprisingly unimaginative, given director Richard Linklater's previous displays of ingenuity, including School of Rock, Waking Life, and Slacker. (Sadly, the film's standout aspect is editing: scene to scene, it's spectacularly incoherent.)
Basic plot: mean coach turns nice, and team comes to believe in itself. Kraft (who is quite good) and Thornton develop something like a charming rhythm, but for the most part, the film feels sloppy, riding on the lingering appeal of the original.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's treatment of the kids' differences in skills, sizes, attitudes, and backgrounds. While the coach is equally abusive to all the children, the film also makes some visual jokes based in their appearances, accents, and first languages (two brothers speak only Spanish). How does Amanda deal with being the only girl in the league? How do the kids learn to work together as a team? How does the coach get over his long-held bitterness and learn to appreciate imperfection?
- In theaters: July 22, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: December 13, 2005
- Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden
- Director: Richard Linklater
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: rude behavior, language throughout, some sexuality and thematic elements.