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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining but UnnecessaryAug. 15 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
The original Bad News Bears is an absolute classic which has aged well. There was no need for a remake; the fact that this movie was made anyhow is a tribute to the lack of creativity and aversion to risk taking in Hollywood. That said, the remake is entertaining, and had it been an original film I would have rated it four rather than three stars. The primary reason to see the new Bad News Bears is actor Billy Bob Thornton. He is the logical successor to Walter Matthau's mantle. Thornton owns the character of Coach Buttermaker - a lewd, gruff drunk with no socially redeeming traits who still manages to exude a sleazy charm. Had he created this role rather than just expertly imitated it, it would have been pure genius, and as it is, it stands as a homage to the original. Oddly, the remake manages to be simultaneously both raunchier and more politically correct than the original. Where the original film had Buttermaker getting endorsements from a bail bondsman on the kid's uniforms, the remake has the endorsement of a strip club, complete with dancers coming to the games as a rooting section for the team. Yet in the climatic scene of the aftermath of the championship game, where the original film had Buttermaker giving all the kids beers, in the remake he simply hands out near-beer, robbing the scene of all of its edginess and power with its unwillingness to take the risks of the original. The kids in the movie were well cast and did a nice job of recreating the original roles. Here once again, this movie has the feel of a homage. The only innovation was to make the ethnic mix of the team more diverse. This movie is a must see for all Billy Bob Thornton fans - his performance here will not disappoint them. And though this remake can never replace the original, it is entertaining and stays fairly true to the intent and feel of the film that it is imitating. I thus give it a qualified recommendation.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Remake Stays True, but Fails to DeliverJan. 28 2006
Mathew K. Higbee
- Published on Amazon.com
The 2005 version of the Bad News Bears is the same story as the 1976 version, but it is far from the same movie.
The 1976 movie is a classic. The late Walther Matthau was perfectly cast as the lovable boozer, coach Buttermaker. Tatum O'Neil, who already had an Academy Award in her trophy case, brought comedy and tenderness to the movie as the tenacious, yet emotionally fragile pitcher, Amanda. While the movie was hilarious and a great social commentary on an American institution, it was the tender relationship between Matthau and O'Neal that made the movie work.
The remake is commendable for staying so true to the original; the few differences include an updated demographic mix of players and updated scenes- skateboard parks replaced pool halls and Hooters replaced Pizza Hut.
Despite the fidelity to the original, the remake fouls classic lines and the relationship between Amanda and Buttermaker strikes out. The cast of the remake turns in a minor league performance. Except for Billy Bob Thorton as coach Buttermaker and Greg Kinnear who played the roll of the opposing coach who was originally played by Vic Morrow, the casting was very poor. The modern cast of supporting players whiff on comic timing where the old cast hit homeruns. They seem as poorly coached on the set as their characters did on the field.
Billy Bob Thorton is the only actor of this generation that could even attempt to follow in Matthau's cleats. And while Thorton does a good job putting his own touches on Buttermaker, his acting often seems uninspired and doesn't generate the sympathy that one felt for Mathau's portrayal. Nevertheless, it is his performance that makes the movie tolerable. His best scenes are with Kinnear.
The original's score of classical music provided a subtle backdrop for the crass comedy. The remake uses the classical music too sparingly. The entire juxtaposition of innocence and vulgarity that worked so well in the original is also out of whack.
As far as remakes go, the 2005 version is average, but it is no substitute for original. Billy Bob Thorton fans will definitely want to watch it, but anyone else should sit this one out.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining remake of Michael Ritche/Walter Matthau classicDec 19 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good, but an unnecessary remakeJan. 18 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
I was at Blockbuster and since there wasn't much of anything new to rent, and I swore to myself I would never watch this movie as I was a huge fan of the original.....well, you know what happened....and I HAD to write something about it, mainly due to the fact of feeling guilty..I figure could support the original more by stating what I thought of this movie...first off, if you never saw the original, this is a really cool movie..BUT if you have seen the original, then it doesn't hold water, and I think purists out there know what I'm talking about...Billy Bob Thorton did a good job, as always..the kid in the wheelchair (I already forgot the name of this actors or his character's name) was pretty damn funny as well..the rest of the acting , in my opinion, blew, especially from the kids that played Amanda and Kelly...I saw what Richard Linklater was going for with the Amanda character..he wanted authenticity as far as her pitching, and Sammi Kane Kraft in real life is an All Star Little League pitcher..BUT I'msure she couldn't have been the only female pitcher out there..seriously, her acting skills reminded me of one of those kids from that old nickelodeon show "Fifteen"...really wooden...awful(and in the bonus features on the DVD she said she got the part because she could pitch and knew she read well for it..that she was a natural when it came to acting)<sheesh>She had better pray to god she's going to be the first female Major League pitcher because she does not have a future in acting...I don't know the kids name that played Kelly Leak, but same thing with him...awful awful..which again in the bonus section on the DVD, he went to an open cast call..never acted before in his life, and it showed..Richard, I know you ahve a casting director but I still think you have final say..what the HELL were you thinking? As far as other things go in the movie, the musical score really could have been done better (if you watch it you'll get where i'm coming from), and the absense of character that Vic Morrow brought in the original was HUGE(Greg Kinnear's character had more of the wimp-dad feel..he wasn't as serious or a tempermental hothead...more buffoonish)...this movie overall was too cutesy(and as I said for a movie if it were something original would be really good, just not good for a remake), while the original had the "real feel"..seriously...I know movies are just that...not real..but that proves my point even more..if you didn't even ahve to think about that for the first one, it shows how ingenious it was...it didnt need to be remade..but this movie did have a couple of laughs, and BBT's Buttermaker was well done, hence the 3 stars..and sorry if I brought up the original movie comparisons , but there's no way around it as this is what it was..how could you not...rent the remake, BUY the original!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This movie needs a switchboard operator...March 29 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
...because so many performances are phoned in. Which is surprising because Greg Kinnear and Billy Bob Thorton are Oscar-nominated actors. Yet somehow, they never transcend being Greg Kinnear and Billy Bob Thorton acting in a lame remake of Bad News Bears. And unfortunately the kid actors do nothing to distiguish themselves either.
At no point in this movie does anything feel even remotely realistic. The baseball games, the dialogue, the interactions between the kids, the relationships between the characters, the "brawl" scenes...it all feels staged and scripted. It's almost like the filmmakers felt like it was enough just to have the character spout vulgarities and constantly bicker. That miscalculation leaves a very empty movie in its wake.
I went in hoping director Richard Linklater could again capture lightning in a bottle, like he did in the excellent School of Rock. Now I understand that the success of that movie was more a result of Jack Black's tremendous performance, rather than anything Linklater did. Though those child actors were light years ahead of what is on display here.
Normally, Bad News Bears would be remarkable for it's mediocrity, it's phoniness and sub-par performances. However, it has the good fortune (and us, the bad fortune) of being released in close proximity to "Kicking a Screaming," the Will Ferrell kid-soccer vehicle that is equal in its inaneness.
Planet Earth was a better place before either of these films was released.