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"A squeeze play is what I'm going to do to your head if you don't stop talking about baseball.",
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This review is from: Here Come the Tigers (DVD)
Here's an interesting experiment...take the popular film The Bad News Bears (1976), remove the talents of Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal, drain all the charm and fun out of it, and what do you have left? A piece of crud titled Here Come the Tigers (1978). Produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th, The New Kids), the movie features Richard Lincoln, in his only film role, as Eddie Burke, a hapless police officer saddled with the responsibility of coaching a little league baseball team comprised of a group of misfit kids. Also appearing is James Zvanut (in his only film role), Sean P. Griffin ("Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye"), Kevin Moore (Johnny English), Michael Pastore, Philip Scuderi, and a whole bunch of kids who appeared in Cunningham's other misfit kids/sports movie (featuring soccer rather than baseball) titled Manny's Orphans (1978), including Kathy Bell, Max McClellan, the director's son Noel Cunningham, Ted Oyama, David Schmalholz, Todd Weeks, and Xavier Rodrigo...geez, this thing should have been called `Manny's Orphans II'...
Eddie Burke (Lincoln) is a policeman who gets stuck (with his doofy, bumbling, moronic comic relief partner Burt played by Zvanut), coaching the Tigers, a bottom of the barrel little league team, after the previous coach goes a bit bonkers. Some of the members of the team include the pint-sized, foul mouth Noel 'Peanuts' Cady (Cunningham), Art 'The Fart' Bullfinch (Griffin), who has a propensity for extreme flatulence, Mike 'The Bod' Karpel (McClellan), the team lothario, 'Eaglescout' Terwilliger (Moore), the nerdlinger, Fritz 'Bionic Mouth' Curtis (David Schmalholz), who never shuts up, bully Timmy Deutsch (Weeks), and Roger 'Fingers' Ross (Pastore), who got his nickname due to the fact he's always got a finger up his nose. The team sucks wind, but Eddie manages to recruit a couple of ringers in Umeki Siddaharo (Oyama), a Japanese boy who wields a mean bat, and a deaf mute boy named Danny Mayfield, who appears to be Sandy Koufax reincarnated. Also joining the team is Francis Xavier Rivera aka Buster (Rodrigo), a rotten, little delinquent, with a passion for destroying cars (only because they're bigger than he is...whatever that means), after a child services worker actually dumps the kid on Burke in a sort of forced adoption...anyway, the team begins to improve, but Buster, the little creep, is having a difficult time (he's not really a bad kid, as he suffers from a self esteem issues after being turned out by his parents...whatever). Eventually the team wins enough games to make it into the playoffs, going up against the Panthers, the six time champions. After an off the field run in with the Panthers, the Tiger's star pitcher Danny is hurt prior to the championship game, and Buster is still struggling with his lousy hitting. The Cinderella Tigers have come far, but it looks like they'll need a miracle to take the cheese.
You know, it's not that I mind films ripping off from other, more popular films, but the fact that it's done so poorly (and blatantly), as is the case here, is what I find so annoying. The formula is present, but what is missing are the aspects that made the movie this one is copying as fun as it was...so what we're left with is a poor photocopy with absolutely no heart. In place of heart we get a whole lot of schmaltz...what's schmaltz? Excessive, maudlin sentimentality...this is mainly brought about by the relationship between the rotten, foul-mouthed, little creep Buster, who's a compulsive liar along with being a destructive vandal (he was so rotten his real parents disowned him, turning him over to the state), and his sort of foster father Eddie, who's so blindly optimistic it borders on retardation. But wait, Buster isn't a bad kid...he's just misunderstood, unloved, and suffers from low self-esteem. All he needs is someone to take the time to relate to him (and a leather strap across the behind). Check out the scene where, through an error on the field, Buster loses a close one for the team, and subsequently walks the damp, city streets in contemplative, teary-eyed, state of depression, while Eddie drives around aimlessly trying to find the little turd, complemented with a sappy, forgettable folksy tune that were a dime a dozen in the late 1970s. Fast forward to the night before the big game and we see a desperate Buster actually praying to the man upstairs that his skills get better, so as not to wreck what his teammates have worked so hard for...oh bruther...and big surprise! The outcome of the game does eventually come down to Buster...as if no one could see that coming. As I said, there's just no heart in this film, so what we're left with are a bunch of foul-mouthed little runts you could care less about. Even the musical scoring seems lifted directly from the Bad News Bears movie, much to my disgust. Perhaps the funniest thing to me was how much worse the filmmakers had to make the Panthers appear just so that the audience would be forced to root for the Tigers. They actually turned the Panthers into street thugs, willing to not only play dirty, but also to seek out the Tiger's star pitcher and beat the hell out of him before the big game so he wouldn't be able to pitch. This aspect was present in the Bad News Bears film, but the odious factor stemmed from the coach of the opposing team, brow beating his somewhat reluctant players into un-sportsmanlike behavior, rather than it emanating from the pint-sized players themselves. The two films are almost identical, but what's lacking here are, as mentioned already, many of the major and minor nuances that made that other film enjoyable, leaving behind a draggy, sometimes boring, unappealing, formulaic transparency with no heart, and few laughs. I'm really unsure who would enjoy this feature, as if you're a fan of the Bad News Bears, you'll probably despise the poor attempt here to leech off its success, and if you're not a fan, you won't like this movie regardless...
The anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) picture on this DVD is decent enough, and the audio comes through well...it doesn't specify what format the audio is in, but I'd guess it's mono. There aren't any special features, but there is a whole mess of trailers for other DVD releases including Agent Cody Banks (2003), Are We There Yet? (2005), Daddy Daycare (2003), Dust To Glory (2005), Madison (2001), The Master of Disguise (2002), Open Season (2006), The Rocky Anthology DVD set, Stuart Little 3 (2005), The Partridge Family DVD sets, and Zathura (2005).