The Bad News Bears
By TS Yellin,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Edgy '70s baseball comedy has lots of cursing, drinking.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Irresponsible alcoholics can become good Little League coaches if they try. Even the worst players should get a chance to play in important games. Kids who aren't great athletes can still have fun and learn a lot playing a sport.
Positive Role Models
A broken-down, former minor league baseball player takes money from a parent to coach a terrible Little League team. He doesn't care about the kids on the team and makes no attempt to teach them or improve their skills. Eventually he realizes that the kids just want to learn to play and do as well as they can and he makes an effort to teach them, support them, and encourage them. The team members are insolent, foul-mouthed, and disrespectful. They pick on each other and get into fights with each other and other teams. After his team loses 26-nothing, a kid climbs a tree and refuses to get down, leaving his uniform on the ground below. Realizing the coach doesn't care, the team members rebel and decide to quit. An 11-year-old girl wants her mother's ex-boyfriend back in her life and he yells that he has no interest. To spite a mean father who is coaching his team, a boy catches a ball during a game and refuses to throw it to a base, allowing the other team to score. Bad sportsmanship abounds. A losing team tells the winners to take the trophy and "shove it up your ass."
Violence & Scariness
A kid throws a wayward ball and breaks the coach's windshield. A league official threatens, "I'll deck that kid." A kid on a motorcycle rides across the field while coaches chase him. He crashes into a wall and is taken by a police officer. A boy gets into a fight with the entire seventh grade after his team loses. His lip is cut. A boy pushes a burrito in another boy's face. A boy gets hit in the "balls." In front of a crowd, a coach hits his son, the pitcher, for deliberately hitting a batter. A coach throws things at his players (including a can of beer).
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
An 11-year-old boy bets she can beat a 12-year-old boy at knock hockey. If he loses he has to join the baseball team. If he wins, she has to go out on a date with him. He says he hangs out at the park because there's "nice ass" there. A kid says she knows "an 11-year-old girl who's on The Pill." An 11-year-old girl laments that she doesn't need a bra yet.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"S--t," "ass," the "N" word, "spic," "pansy," "booger-eating moron," "bitch," "bastard," "butt," "spaz," "puke," shut up," "creep," "damn it," "honkie," "crud," "pusshead," "bonehead," and "turds."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Miller High Life, Schlitz, and Budweiser beers, and Jim Beam bourbon are on display. A character drives an old Cadillac.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult habitually spikes his frequent beers with bourbon. He drinks enough to pass out among a group of kids. He drinks beer while driving. He also smokes a cigar. To celebrate, he offers beers to all his 13-and-under Little League players. An 11-year-old smokes cigarettes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Bad News Bears is a rough-edged kids' baseball comedy with some profanity ("s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "spic," the "N" word) 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.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
The Bad News Bears
Based on 22 parent reviews
PG-13 for language
Report this review
TV-14-Rasist Slurs, Language, Underage Drinking, Drinking, Smoking, &Sexual Refferances
Report this review
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 11year-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 1970s. Though edgy, particularly when adults push their kids to win at all costs, it's 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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about sportsmanship and about the pressure that kids who play sports often feel. Is it more important to win or have a good time?
If you could remake this movie, how would you do it? Who would you cast?
What do you think about all the profanity? Was it necessary? Why or why not?
- In theaters: July 18, 1976
- On DVD or streaming: July 18, 2002
- Cast: Christopher Daniel Barnes, Tatum O'Neal, Walter Matthau
- Director: Michael Ritchie
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language and mature themes
- Last updated: April 5, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Best Baseball Movies
Great Sports Movies
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate