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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Bad News Bears Billy Bob Thorton Movie Review

Angelina Jolie's ex Billy Bob Thornton stars in this 2005 remake of original 1975 The Bad News Bears movie.
Both the remake and the original focus on an alcoholic baseball has been that, out of financial necessity, agrees to coach a team of misfit outcast children in an extremely competitive, suburban little league.

I think it is fair to compare both films since the 2005 version is pretty faithful to the original 1976 story.  After all, a remake is intended to take an old idea, reshape it, and make money on it.  I am not against remakes, but they are meant to ride the coat-tails of the original and sell tickets.  Reviewing the 'new' based on how it compares to the 'old' is fair game here.

The 2005 film has some funny moments but often Thorton's brash, profane moments at times feel a little contrived.  In spite of Thorton's off-screen bad boy image, he never really appears natural in the role of the degenerate coach. The original film starred Walter Matthau who is so natural in the role you forget he is an actor. Matthau's character is out of shape, lumbering and and wears a world-weary face beautifully. 

Richard Linklater, the director of the 2005 film, never really seems to nail down the political incorrectness that carried makes the 1976 film a classic.  While there are non-PC scenes where I laughed out loud, most of the political incorrectness felt contrived simply to make a non-PC film.  The original 1976 Bad News Bears had extremely funny, as well as troubling, lines that just flowed beautifully. Perhaps this is because the 1976 film was made, shall I say, in 1976. Drunk driving, abusive language, chauvinism was more accepted then and therefore come off more natural in the original. I'm not suggesting that those activities are the right thing to do but when portraying them in older films, it just comes across more smoothly. 

Greg Kinare, in 2005, never lives up to the tremendous Vic Morrow 1976 performance. Both play the uber competitive , arrogant rival coach.  Kinare's pulls off some funny moments but he comes off as a goof.  Vic Morrow's performance was simply great, dark, deep acting.  Where Kinare's character has to come out and tell you he is full of himself, Morrow's character pulls this off simply in the way he controls his voice and posture.

Overall, I thought Thorton's Bad News Bears wasn't bad.  It probably gained some fans who never even knew the film was a remake.  If you didn't see Walter Matthau's Bad News Bears though, you better check it out.  It is a classic sports film.


Rated R

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