17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining remake of Michael Ritche/Walter Matthau classic,
This review is from: Bad News Bears (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)Remakes good or bad dog our entertainment existence. Why? A good story needs to be retold. A good story needs to be told more than once. It's a waste otherwise. The movies represent our myths. We've seen two remakes and two sequels to "King Kong" and "Dracula" has been adapted many, many times (badly for the most part I might add) so why not the comedy about the team of baseball misfits who could? Billy Bob Thornton takes on the role that Walter Matthau essayed in the original 1976 film. The social misfits angle has been updated with kids that behave worse and have their own social stigmas. They still kick butt. Alcoholic pest worker Morris Buttermaker (Thornton) briefly played in the "big game" before washing out and using booze as his crutch. He's recruited to coach a kids baseball team that play so badly that they could be beat by a tree in the wind.
Michael Ritiche's ("Smile", "The Bad News Bears", "Downhill Racer", "The Candidate")original is a five star classic that would be difficult to beat. Luckily this remake doesn't try to beat it--instead Linklater ("Dazed and Confused", "Before Sunset", "The School of Rock", "A Scanner Darkly")just tries to update it for a new audience. His efforts deserve 3 1/2 stars. It ain't perfect but it's a whole lot of fun. Here's the good news-this film like the original is just as nasty, funny and outrageous in its own way. There was probably the temptation to make this into a PC Disney movie. Luckily the writers and director Richard Linklater resisted temptation and made a film that both pays homage to the original film and retell the story for a new audience.
"Bears" hits a home run on DVD with an very good transfer. Detail is exceptionally good and color rich with accurate flesh tones. The color and detail are remarkably good. The 5.1 catches every ground ball that the cast hit.
"At Bat with The Bears" features Linklater, Billy Bob Thornton discussing his attraction to doing a remake something that he has avoided. Thornton mentions that the big attraction for him was taking on a role so strongly associated with Matthau. "Scouting for the Big Leagues" focuses on the casting sessions and includes bits and pieces of the audition tapes done by the kid actors. Linklater felt that finding actors that could both play the roles and project distinctive personalities was the biggest casting challenge. The other challenge according to Linklater was finding an actress that could play the role convincingly of Amanda Whurlitzer and someone who could actually throw the ball well. The "outtakes" don't amount to much and aren't all that memorable. The "Video Baseball Cards" is a clever way to give us a bit of background on the actors in the main roles.
The commentary by director Linklater and writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa provides an entertaining glimpse behind-the-scenes. The challenge of translating a classic film without losing the flavor of the original for a contemporary audience is discussed. Ficarra and Requa are depreciating about their efforts crediting Bill Lancaster with writing the perfect comedy (he did). Sadly, Lancaster is no longer around to hear his efforts praised (or to see this fine remake) as he died in 1997 having written only a handful of movies including John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing".
Remakes are always a questionable affair. Luckily Linklater and his collaborators have fashioned one that manages to be unique, funny and yet also stands up pretty well when compared to the original. Not insulting the original is an art by itself and "Bad News Bears" (what happened to "The"? Hollywood is becoming increasingly illiterate) manages to be entertaining and worthwhile without diminishing the terrific original film directed by Michael Richtie.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 2, 2010 8:32:43 AM PST
E. Rensberger says:
It's still not clear what use the remake is. Why watch this when one can watch the original just as easily?
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2010 3:32:06 PM PST
Wayne Klein says:
I agree. Both are enjoyable but Michael Ritchie's original film is the one I prefer. Still, this "remake" is pretty good primarily because of the terrific performances.
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