Review: The Bad News Bears

Yetitor’s note: regular posts will come every other Monday.  Reviews will follow no schedule, posting whenever I finish a book or watch a movie.  I have no life, so expect a lot of Friday night movie reviews……
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Background

I’ve always had a strange relationship with baseball.  Like everyone else in Georgia in the 90s I was required by state law to be a Braves fan, meaning I was a fan when they won the World Series in ’95.  Six is way too young to see your team win it all, and I was spoiled because of it.  Any year after that not ending with the championship was a waste of my time.    I was too young to care if we had a good season statistically and the only pennant I cared about was hanging on my wall and said World Champs ’95.

Despite treating the team with a borderline abusive attitude and maintaining impossible standards (like all good baseball parents), I stuck with them.  For starters, tickets were handed out like candy back home.  My school gave out nosebleeds just for starting a book and it seemed like my dad had a steady stream of work friends who always had tickets they wanted to get rid of.  Why they accepted them in the first place, I’ll never know.

More importantly, former pitcher Greg Maddux was my idol.  I couldn’t have given you a single statistic about his career, because all that mattered was he played pro ball, and he did it wearing glasses.

I forgive you for sending back my painting Greg

I forgive you for sending back my painting

Seeing as it would still be another fifteen years or so before idiots would start wearing non-prescription glasses and remove the stigma, this was huge for me.  I played baseball from t-ball through middle school, wearing glasses almost the entire time, and the only way I could have loved Greg more was if he was also waiting to grow into his body.

My rookie card

Me, age 9

Then the unthinkable happened: Greg got Lasik.  This was one of the first great betrayals in my young life, second only to never receiving the Inspector Gadget abilities I prayed for every night (still waiting).  I was heartbroken, as well as still fat and nearsighted.

Greg’s surgery, in addition to all my favorite players from the World Series team slowly being traded away, led to me hangin up my tomahawk.  I’ve never looked back.

While still hurt, I kept playing Little League and I did it with glasses Greg.  Despite being blessed with the body of a young Babe Ruth, I wasn’t very good, but I didn’t care.  I was always on teams with my buddies and loved everything about the game.  I got to be outside with minimal sweating, I could talk to my parents from right field, and Big League Chew allowed me to pretend to do something I wouldn’t fully grasp for another ten years.  I played in the “for fun” league so most of my teammates were right there with me, leading to lots of screwing around and plenty of memories.

Who should watch this

Bad News Bears is the ideal baseball movie for a guy with my history.  I played on more than a few teams that were the joke of the entire league and most of them were filled with plenty of foul-mouthed little snots.  The movie celebrates those teams, the ones who lost and had fun doing it.

It’s also an accurate portrayal of how real kids talk when (responsible) adults aren’t around.  Whenever a movie has a lot of kids cussing there is always a huge uproar, but the reality is there should be an uproar for the opposite.  Kids acting like little precocious geniuses who quote literature and use 25-cent words is beyond played out and just doesn’t happen in real life.  The kids in Bears are refreshingly true to life, despite much of their slang being horribly dated.

Who shouldn’t

Anyone who played baseball in high school.  Making your high school team means you probably played in competitive leagues and owned all your own equipment as a kid.  This means you’ll relate more to the bad guys than the Bears.  If that’s fine with you, go for it.  Otherwise you might want something a little more inspirational with characters that mirror your competitive drive.

Grades

Little League Nostalgia: 4 stars

Humor: 5 stars

Underage drinking: 5 tall boys

Walter Matthau: like seeing your grandpa drunk and yelling at kids.

Review: Mac and Me

mac-and-me

I like to consider myself a man with good taste in movies.  I love the first two Godfather films, I stayed awake for most of Schindler’s List, and Apocalypse Now is my favorite movie when I want to impress people (it’s Tommy Boy if I’m being honest).  However, when given a choice between an Oscar-winning biopic or something in the clearance bin of a gas station, I always go with the latter.  I’m like someone in a bad relationship- I know the movie isn’t good for me, I know the relationship isn’t going anywhere constructive, but I  have such a soft-spot for it.  Plus, you don’t know what it’s like when no one else is around!  It can be really sweet!

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“We don’t need them baby.”

Mac and Me might be the most cynical cash grab of a movie I’ve ever watched, and I loved it.  The basic summary is a family of aliens comes to Earth, the baby (Mac) gets separated and spends the rest of the movie with a mother and her two sons, trying to find his family.  Also, they whistle instead of talking.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t get annoying until about minute five so you’re good.

If you even glanced at the above poster you probably won’t be surprised to know that this movie was made to get some of that sweet sweet E.T. money Spielberg was rubbing in everyone’s face.  Trying to capitalize on the success of another movie is nothing new, but what I think makes Mac a special case study is just how bad they missed the mark.  All during the movie I kept making notes of the moments that were taken directly from E.T. and how this movie completely missed what made those moments great in the first place.  Let’s run through the elements Mac and Me “borrows”: 

The flying bike scene

Even people who haven’t seen E.T. can recognize the flying bike scene.  It easily became the iconic moment from the movie, one of triumph and magic and wish fulfillment for anyone who has ever wanted to fly.

Here’s how Mac and Me reinterprets it:

That’s the movie’s wheelchair-bound protagonist flying off a cliff.  Watch it again and let it sink in.

It’s as if they watched the flying bike scene and thought “Two wheels are ok, I guess, but you know what’ll really sell tickets?  Four wheels!”

A perfect example of quality over quantity.

The Reese’s Pieces

While I wasn’t there due to not-being-born, I’ve heard about how crazy people went for Reese’s Pieces after watching an alien eat them and say their name in a funny voice.  People are idiots.

There is no movie magic to this moment.  It’s product placement, pure and simple.  It is, however, done with a little subtlety and finesse.  It’s underplayed and only appears in the movie when the story calls for it e.g. as a trail for E.T.

Mac and his family need good ol’ refreshing Coca-cola to survive.

He was literally on the brink of death before this moment.

He was literally on the brink of death before this moment.

It’s very loosely explained as being similar to a liquid they drink on their home planet, which makes sense if they’re from the World of Coke in Atlanta.

The Earthlings discover this because they more or less freebase Coke throughout the entire movie, always making sure the label is clearly visible and facing the camera.

He might as well wink at the camera

He might as well wink at the camera

When not hooked up to a Coke IV, Mac enjoys eating Skittles.  Imagine how they came up with that one.

Also, you may be wondering where the name “Mac” comes from in the first place.  The aliens don’t have a whistle that translates to Mac, so why does the family call him that?  To answer that, I give you the best scene in the entire movie:

In case you didn’t notice, they’re at McDonalds.

The cute alien

E.T. isn’t cute in the traditional sense, but he was nonhuman enough to where it wasn’t upsetting.  He had a huge head, waddled back and forth and had hot dog fingers.  The creators of Mac and Me decided that was a good start, but what people really want to see is horrific aliens that are this close to being human burn victims.

I had to keep reminding myself that the guy with the gun was the bad guy, not the hero

I had to keep reminding myself that the guy with the gun was the bad guy, not the hero

They walk upright, their skin is peachish, they have all the right number of arms and legs and ears, and it makes them TERRIFYING.  The more human they looked, the more off-putting they became.

The worst by far is the dad.  His eyes are always half-closed, he sways when he walks while somehow also managing to thrust his pelvis forward and just generally looks like a surly drunk.

"Donchu sass mee"

“Donchu sass mee”

The cherry on top, of course, is their perpetual state of nudity.  You’d think if they were going to make anthropomorphic aliens they would have at least given them clothes.  Seems logical, right?

There I go again, confusing logical for nightmare-inducing

There I go again, confusing “logical” for “nightmare-inducing”

Conclusion

Who should see this? People who thought E.T. was good, but didn’t quite hit the mark for traumatizing children.

There’s so much more to be said about this movie but it really should be experienced firsthand.  It’s on Netflix Instant or you can probably get a free copy with a Domino’s promotional pizza somewhere.