Movie of the Day – The Bad News Bears (1976)
July 6, 2012 Leave a comment
So this weekend in Kansas City, our town is hosting the All-Star game. If I was a baseball fan, I would be excited about this, but instead I am just more “cool” about it. So the large influx of people to KC means things are going to be hectic here with a massive amount of stuff going to satiate the crowds who are here to either see the game or just came for the All-Star fest related programs other than baseball. So today I wanted to post a movie that is baseball related and since I already did Major League, I chose another equally funny, profane movie. And nothing is funnier than kids swearing and being utter dicks.
When beer-breathed ex-minor-league ball player and professional pool cleaner Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) agrees to coach a little league team in the San Fernando Valley, he soon finds he’s in over his head, having inherited an assortment of pint-sized peons and talentless losers. They play well-organized teams and lose by tremendous margins, and the parents threaten to disband the Bears to save the kids (and themselves) any further embarrassment. Buttermaker refuses, though, and brings in a pair of ringers: Amanda (Tatum O’Neal), his ex-girlfriend’s tomboy daughter, and Kelly (Jackie Earle Haley), a cigarette-smoking delinquent who happens to be a gifted athlete. With their help, the Bears manage to change their losing ways and qualify for the championship, where they face their arch-rivals, the Yankees. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi
I am still trying to get over the fact that Jackie Earl Haley was in this movie and eventually grows up into the actor who plays Rorschach from Watchmen. Anyways, The Bad News Bears is really the movie that ended up sparking the whole kids sports movies that showed up in the 80s and dominated the early 90s. I don’t begrudge that genre, but it can not hold a candle to the brilliance of Walter Matthau leading a group of misfit, foul mouthed kids to victory. It was really a product of the 70s, with such raunch and humor that is really frowned upon when you have kids using ethnic slurs and profanity in such abundance. But that is the charm of the movie, you are seeing such reckless kids being coached by a guy who doesn’t give a shit really. Kind of endearing and sweet in a profane way.
The Bad News Bear for all its vulgarity, is a nice take and satire on the winning culture of America. The opposing coach of the Yankees, played by Vic Morrow, is the sort of ruthless coach that will win at all costs. Matthau’s character sort of gets caught up in the potential winning atmosphere, bringing in ringers and outside players to better the team. But the lesson comes at the championship game, like most sports movies, and everyone learns a valuable lesson. Win or lose, it is a game and you play because you love the game. It’s a touching moment crowned with the vulgarity of a little kid telling the team to shove that trophy up their ass, but hey it’s all good since it is in the nature of the competitive spirit.
Now I realize that there were sequels (awful) and even a remake (decent), but you can’t replicate that innocence and curmudgeon Walter Matthau performance. Director Michael Ritchie got a one of a kind performance from the pint sized cast of kids and even set up some heartfelt moments between Matthau and O’Neals character. Sure, you watch this movie because it’s about kids being crude and rude, but there is a lot to this movie about the winning mentality and also because it is earnest and funny. One of the top baseball movies around and truly a gem of the 70s.
It kind of embodies the spirit of America and our need to win. The whole mentality of the group of kids