New year, new Little League and, thanks to some polite but firm bribery, a lawyer mom (Harden) has blagged her son’s inept baseball team a supposed trophy in the form of former pro and permanent drunk Morris Buttermaker (Thornton). Can he slap his brats into shape to beat rivals The Yankees, or will the ankle-biter encounter prove too much?
If Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes tried to avoid the remake tag by pompously referring to itself as a “reimagining”, what to call a movie so twinned to its source you’re left ducking the sparks of déjà vu? If you’re looking for a pat tag for Richard Linklater’s latest, “action replay” fills the gap.With its anti-PC buffoonery, the 1976 Bad News Bears provided the template for every renegade-team sports movie since, and it’s also given Bad Santa scriptwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa an easy life: structure, characters, even score have all been ported over. Question is, if it ain’t broke…?Luckily, Bears’ predictability works in its favour. From training montage to loser salvation, this is unapologetic comfort viewing. On a gags-to-laughs ratio, it’s certainly the comedy to beat this season, thanks mostly to Billy Bob Thornton’s twinkly, ragged Buttermaker. Still, for a movie so up on its genre smarts, it’s odd Linklater should pitch a dipper for the climax, with the final game way too laidback to truly excite. As such, you leave your seat with a microwaved glow, not the atomic high you think you’re owed.
Despite the lack of a vital air-punch from a curiously flat finale, there's much to love and laugh at. Way too salty for pre-teens, mind...
Reviewed by Simon Crook