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Bad News Bears
2005 - PG-13 - 110 Mins.
Director: Richard Linklater
Producer: Adam Ellison
Written By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden, Ridge Canipe
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.badnewsbearsmovie.com/badnewsbears.php
   
Billy Bob Thornton must have read the script to 'Bad News Bears,' a remake of the 1976 original which starred the late, great Walter Matthau and realized that said screenplay possessed the same ingredients that made his last foul-mouthed film ('Bad Santa') a surprise box office hit in November 2003 and signed on right then and there. The same could be said for director Richard Linklater. He too experienced success with 'School of Rock', a film that also had to do with an irresponsible adult dealing with a bunch of precocious and oftentimes obnoxious children. Does their logical team-up with Paramount's high profile remake yield similar returns in terms of content?

The result with 'Bad News Bears' (dropping "The" from the original film's title for the sake of simplicity) is one big mixed bag of a film. First, for what the film gets right, starting with the casting of Thornton. There is perhaps no one else in Hollywood right now who is better at playing a "Couldn't give a damn" drunk loser than Mr. Thornton (That's one way of complimenting the actor). He exudes lax morals and all around spite for human nature with almost supernatural ease. Lending solid support as the arrogant coach of the arch rival of Thornton's ragtag bunch of youngsters is Oscar nominee (1997's 'As Good as It Gets') Greg Kinnear. He ably allows the viewer to hate him with a passion right from the get-go by burying himself in the role with gusto. Also appearing is Marcia Gay Harden as the parent of one of the Bears players. She is given next to nothing to do and thus leaves very little of an impression when all is said and done.

The screenplay is attributed to Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the pair who wrote Thornton's 'Bad Santa.' There's no doubt that it includes some gut-busting humor. Whether Thornton is verbally assaulting a kid for being an obnoxious brat ("I have mind to kick your dad in the balls so he doesn't have the opportunity to foul the earth with another bastard like you") or one of the kids is giving a physical beating to player on the opposing team, the film can be very funny at times. Too bad it is anything but consistently humorous.

In addition to the aforementioned bits of humor that click, the film is replete with joke after joke that fail to go anywhere substantial. The humor is oftentimes too mean-spirited and otherwise vulgar for its own good (this film is definitely not a film for children in spite of a premise that may lead one to think that). Far more of the attempts at humor here fall flat when compared to what was presented in 'Bad Santa', not to mention 'School of Rock.'

All of this leads me to the conclusion that if you want to see a film in this vein you would be much better off renting either 'School of Rock' or 'Bad Santa' than paying to see this particular exercise in pint-sized vulgarity.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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