The Bad News Bears
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Bad News Bears, The (DVD)
A major surprise as one of 1976's top grossing films. THE BAD NEWS BEAR S is a movie about children that is refreshing, utterly believable, and quite cleverly funny. Walter Matthau is at his absolute best as the gru mbling beer-guzzling former minor-league pitcher who gets roped into coa ching a band of half-pint misfits somewhat loosely called a team. With t his bunch in uniform, it's impossible to get caught up in the suburban c ompetitive spirit that drives other adults to extremes of parental dscip line. So, instead, the Bears have a good time.]]>
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That being said, those who love the film do so because they relate to it. Those who do not, never experienced little league in the working class or poor areas of town. These kids have grit and heart because they are after all...kids.
The essential plot is pretty basic. A group of junior high school age baseball misfits are thrown together to play on a team called "The Bears". They only have one thing in common: they are, for the most part, terrible. They can't pitch, they can't bat, and they can't field. To add insult to injury they are not the most endearing group of kids but rather a bunch of undisciplined and foul-mouthed adolescents who could give characters played by Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci a run for their money. Walter Matthau, in one of his best performances since "The Odd Couple", plays Morris Buttermaker, a swimming pool cleaner who is asked by a City Councilman to coach this team of athletically challenged oddballs. The Councilman had filed a lawsuit against the city because the Little League was excluding players with less ability, and the Bears team was the city's "restitution", allowing a bunch of less-skilled kids a chance to play the game.
What makes the film as good as it is has to do with the characters of the players as much as Matthau as Buttermaker. These kids were literally ripped right out of reality, and seem so similar to the kids I played with when I was of junior high age that it's almost scary. I can't name them all, but I offer a few of the ones which stick in my mind. In no particular oder: Toby, son of the councilman, who's probably the most vocal of the kids, Ogilvie, the most intellectual of the boys but not the best player, Amanda, their best pitcher and the only female in the league, Kelly, the trouble-maker who smokes and rides a Harley but is an amazing outfielder and hitter, Tanner, my favorite character, the shortest but craziest of the team who would give Napoleon Bonaparte a run for his money when he takes on the entire 7th grade. He defends Lupus against some bullies at one point in the film. Lupus is perhaps the worst player on the team and shows little knowledge of social decorum. At first Tanner and the others are put-off by Lupus, but at one point the team appreciates him.
At first, there seems little hope for this group of unskilled oddballs when they're slaughtered during their first game. However, as the film progresses we learn more about the characters and how they start to pull for one another. Several of the Bears are either dismissed or harassed at various moments in the story, and the teammates begin to learn to stick up for one another, both on and off the field. As a result they slowly begin to play better. Even Buttermaker changes during the story. At first he's not the best coach, but he starts to see things in his players the other teams around the league don't see. We also witness the obsession and over-zealousness of the parents, whose attitude becomes more about the kids winning than simply experiencing the game. In the climactic final game, Buttermaker makes a realization which is as profound as any in sports films of this type.
This is just an incredible story which says much more about modern culture, particularly about young people, then it may have set out to do. The dialog seems like it was derived right out of a junior high school baseball diamond. While most child characters speak dialog which is unrelated to their age and experience, the script of the Bad News Bears must have come from the mouths of babes, literally. I imagine the screenwriters must have spent time at actual Little League games and written down the dialog. The ending is one of the best in all of sports films, and it is not only completely believable but it fits with the rhetoric of the entire film. An absolute breath of fresh air, especially if you're tired of those fictional sports films where you can guess the outcome.
hear crud instead of s**t, or cr*p---ohhh, its still is graphic/and totally not PC. IT just feels waterdowned alilbit. Does anyone else feels this too. I have not seen the Billy Bob remake either.
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I bought it for my little grandson for his 8th birthday. He played ball this year for the first time.Read more