Saturday, July 23, 2005

Bad News Bears: Yet Another Remake

dir. Richard Linklater

As you can read in my L&N bio, the 1976 "Bad News Bears" is my favorite sports movie of all time. I love Walter Matthau's bumbling, drunk as hell, Coach Buttermaker; I love Tatum O'Neal as the girl with the sweet fastball. I love how it always takes me back to my days of little league play where the coaches always made bigger asses of themselves than the kids playing. So, with all of the bitching, Chris and I along with others at this site, have been lashing out with on remakes in 2005 why the hell would I even go see this film? Two words, Richard Linklater.

Chris and I are in total agreement with the consistency and greatness Linklater has shown over the past 13 years of his filmmaking career. From his wonderful debut in 1992 with "Slacker," to "Bad News Bears," this man has made some great cinema. Two years ago, "School of Rock" was in my top ten, last year "Before Sunset" made the list. In 2001 both "Waking Life" and "Tape" were on it. He's also made "Dazed and Confused," "Before Sunrise," and "Suburbia." Yes, he does have "Newton Boys" haunting his resume, but it's a mere smidge on what has to date been a hell of a track record.

So, what does that say about "Bad News Bears?" To put it in Linklater's list of films I would have to say it's better than "Newton Boys," and not as good as anything else he has done. That doesn't make it a bad film necessarilly, but as with most remakes, and even the good ones, it's just kind of pointless. It's basically a shot by shot remake, which makes it very faithful. There are even quite a few lines of dialouge lifted from the original; which considering they used the same screenplay for most of it, that makes sense.

When watching a remake that is this much of a carbon copy, all one who has seen the original can do is compare performances and such. Walter Matthau and Billy Bob Thorton bring their own unique talents to each of their Buttermakers, so I can't really say Thorton is worse. Billy Bob Thorton is his usual funny self and he gives what in most actors hands would be pretty standard, obvious one liners some zing. I do prefer Tatum O'Neal to her 2005 counterpart, but the girl won an Oscar when she was like 12, so those are hard shoes to fill.

As far as the story goes, it follows the same blueprint. Chico's Bail Bond's gets repalced with a gentlemen's club. Pizza joints get replaced with "Hooters." Arcade's get replaced with skateboarding rinks. In the end it's the same results which just for remake purposes I kind of wish they had changed the outcome of the championship game. That would have given us two different takes on sportsmanship the "Bad News" way. The original was actually a frontrunner in this area; in all other sports movies the underdogs always won. It was kind of nice to see a sports movie be about more than winning the big game, but it would have also been nice to see a different outcome.

What it basically boils down to is this. If you like the original you will probably feel the same as I do about this one. If you hate the original, there is nothing new here to interest you. If you haven't seen the original then this might be a good movie for you to check out, especially if you're one of those strange people who doesn't like to watch anything pre-1980's. Linklater, Thorton, and company have come up with a pretty entertaining summer film here, so it's hard to knock it. And like Chris said, if you're going to do a remake, I guess this is the way to do it.



At 8/29/2005 08:00:00 PM, Blogger Randall said...

i thought the story was ok, but i mean, these type of movies are getting old. especially since kicking and screaming came out what, months before it? School of Rock was indeed a great movie, love that one. but bad news bears was meh. iduno, comment on myreview at


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