Monday, August 31, 2009

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Walter Matthau plays a drunk named Buttermaker.  Buttermaker has been hired to manage a little league team, which has more misfits than the Island of Misfit Toys.  Buttermaker has to somehow bring this team together and get his life back into shape.

"The Bad News Bears" is one of my favorite baseball movies.  It is perfect in every way.  I honestly can't think of anything wrong with the film.  There are several scenes that make me laugh every time I see it.  My favorite scene is when Matthau has his first practice with the team.  The Bears are terrible.  The best part of the practice is when the fat catcher, Engelberg gets chocolate on the baseball.  It is funny how angry Engelberg gets when Matthau confronts him.  The funniest baseball play during a game is when there is a squeeze bunt happening.  Engelberg gets the ball and since he is the catcher, there is no one to cover home plate.  So what does he do?  He throws the ball to the umpire.  I laugh hysterically every time.

Walter Matthau is great in the film.  The reason the film works so well is because of the changes Matthau goes through.  In the beginning of the film, Matthau doesn't care about a thing in the world.  All he wants to do is be left alone and drink.  By the end of the film, Matthau cares about the team and he has rekindled his father-like relationship with his ex-girlfriend's daughter.  

All of the acting is excellent in the film, but besides Matthau, the best performance is by Vic Morrow.  Morrow plays a manager on an opposing team and he is just wonderful.  He is perfectly cast and he plays the role exactly like a little league coach would act.  Tatum O'Neal also does a good job in playing Amanda.  At first she will not play baseball because she is becoming a woman.  She then decides to play and has a great time.  And, as I said before, she and Buttermaker become close like they were long ago.  

"The Bad News Bears" is one of my favorite movies.  Each character stands out on his own.  After one viewing, you will remember every single member on the Bears baseball team.  It is a film that could never be remade.  Unfortunately, Hollywood tried.  They failed.

A-  I recommend it.

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