The Bad News Bears

Movie review by
TS Yellin, Common Sense Media
The Bad News Bears Movie Poster Image
Edgy '70s baseball comedy has lots of cursing, drinking.
  • PG
  • 1976
  • 102 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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).

Sex

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.
 

Language

"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."
 

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

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... Continue reading
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 try... Continue reading
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
Teen, 13 years old Written bypeace4me April 9, 2008

haha

this movie is HILARIOUS!!!!!!! a great bet for anyone, sport fans or no the kids are very realistic, and yes, there is swearing, but I mean please, have you eve... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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