The Bad News Bears Movie Poster Image

The Bad News Bears



Very edgy baseball comedy is funny, poignant.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1976
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lots of bad behavior all around.


Children frequently scuffle. Father slaps son. Coach throws things at his players (including a can of beer).


Female maturation comes up.


No f-word, but almost everything else. Adults and children use extensive profanity --- true to life but potentially offensive. One boy spouts racial epithets (though he isn't really a racist).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The star 11-year-old player smokes. During the end celebration, the coach gives beer to the 11-year-olds.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Bad News Bears is a rough-edged kids' baseball comedy with some profanity and really iffy behavior (kids smoke, gamble, and ride motorcycles). During the end celebration, the coach gives beer to the 11-year-olds. One character is an alcoholic. The parents push their kids to win at all costs, and the kids are often bratty and mean.

What's the story?

In BAD NEWS BEARS, ex-minor leaguer Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) spikes his beer with liquor before taking a check to manage a little league baseball team. An assortment of misfits, the Bears share one thing: they're all terrible players. At first, Buttermaker cares little for them. But after the boys get humiliated, he recruits secret weapon number one. More interested in ballet than baseball, Amanda (Tatum O'Neal), throws a knee-buckling curve. With Amanda pitching, and the others improving, the Bears gain respectability. When eleven-year-old, Harley-riding Kelly (Jackie Earle Haley) joins, the Bears become contenders. In the finals they play the Yankees, whose manager (Vic Morrow) mercilessly drives his players. Caught up in the competition, Buttermaker mistreats his team, until he realizes that they're only children playing a game. In the end, though the Bears lose, they regain their pride as Buttermaker tastes redemption.

Is it any good?


A Rocky-style sports movie packed with thrills, The Bad News Bears maintains a level of intelligence that its knock offs, like The Mighty Ducks, can't approach. It's thrilling, funny, and, at times, a poignant baseball film. It also reflects the taboo-testing 1970's. Though edgy, particularly when adults push their kids to win at all costs, is a winner with a tremendous amount of heart. This movie never condescends as it unblinkingly portrays the not always wholesome world of little league baseball. It's a world where children often brutalize the less skilled while parents insensitively encourage this cutthroat attitude. This theme of adults relentlessly pushing their offspring to succeed, usually more for themselves, is far too recognizable.

Besides this cold dose of reality, the movie also offers a steady supply of laughter. Much of it comes from the colorful collection of characters on the team. Not surprisingly, even more humor emanates from master curmudgeon Walter Matthau and his lively interplay with Tatum O'Neal. O'Neal creates an emotionally rich character who hides her need for a father behind a veneer of precocious independence.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about sportsmanship and about the pressure that kids who play sports often feel. They might also want to discuss the questionable behavior that goes on here (the smoking, drinking, name-calling, etc.)

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 18, 1976
DVD/Streaming release date:July 18, 2002
Cast:Christopher Daniel Barnes, Tatum O'Neal, Walter Matthau
Director:Michael Ritchie
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:language and mature themes

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old September 6, 2010

perfect for teens

Bad words, talk of female maturaty, drunk coach, and a few bad rolmodels. Good message
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Parent of a 4, 4, 9, and 11 year old Written bypnashspartan May 13, 2010

Great for the 11+ aged kids but very iffy for any younger

It is a little questionable for younger children but the message at the end is right on. It could do without the ??language but I wasn't offended as much as surprised when it came out. I love this movie!
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written bylostintv April 9, 2008

Not for kids. Or adults.

This movie teaches all the wrong things about sports. Give your opponents the finger. Tell them to stick their trophy up their (you know where). Rather than trying to improve, just find some better players to put on your team. Use all the worst racial epithets.


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