Movie Poster
Bad News Bears
Richard Linklater
Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden, Sammi Kraft, Jeff Davies, Tyler Patrick Jones
111 min.


Bad News Bears is two changes away from being a great movie: Tomisaburo Wakayama and six foot geysers of blood. All right, Bad News Bears is those changes away from being a Lone Wolf and Cub movie. But really, aren't the two practically the same thing?

I mean, I guess the world would be a pretty shitty place if every movie were a Lone Wolf and Cub movie. But can you imagine how glorious it would be if seventy-five or eighty percent were?

See, Tomisaburo Wakayama was the enemy coach in the Bad News Bears Go to Japan. In the new Bears, Greg Kinnear is the enemy coach. Not really an improvement, but, Jesus, at least it wasn't Kevin Kline. Am I right? Or Kenneth Brannaugh? Scary.

In fact most of the movie survives on the intelligence of its casting. Billy Bob Thornton drunkenly swearing at children: genius. Ben Affleck drunkenly swearing at children: irredeemable. There is no one else that could have made this work. Let me put it this way: of all the actors in Hollywood, Billy Bob Thornton is not Dennis Hopper. But he could be.

Richard Linklater follows his winning School of Rock formula exactly: making competently constructed amiable trash. Basically this is like Bad Santa with baseball (and a PG-13). And Richard Linklater, like Terry Zwigoff, is slumming in the Hollywood mainstream. Only he doesn't have to try as hard. Generic looks good on him.

Pat Jackson