The Bad News Bears

  • Review Date: July 17, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1976
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Very edgy baseball comedy is funny, poignant.
  • Review Date: July 17, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1976
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lots of bad behavior all around.

Violence

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

Sex

Female maturation comes up.

Language

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).

Consumerism
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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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 release date: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, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:language and mature themes

This review of The Bad News Bears was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old September 6, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

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
Adult Written bylostintv April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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.
Parent of a 4, 4, 9, and 11 year old Written bypnashspartan May 13, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

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

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