Friday, November 2, 2007

No. 23 - Bad News Bears

Bad News Bears is noteworthy for two reasons. It was the first film I ever saw at the Chinese Theater (Black Sunday was the second, The Shining was the third). Also, Bad News Bears accomplished something that no film had previously achieved -- it told the truth about Little League.

Anyone who has survived Little League will relate to Bad News Bears. Writer Bill Lancaster and director Michael Ritchie get all the details right -- the obnoxious parents in the bleachers who take the games too seriously, the coaches who make the players' lives miserable, the conceit of sportsmanship that evaporates in the heat of competition. Best of all, the kids here are not the impossibly angelic cherubs of Disney films, but rather foul-mouthed punks who smoke and drink beer. The film even touches upon such un-Disney subjects as divorce and birth control.

Two sequels were produced, both without Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal -- Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, and Bad News Bears Go To Japan (with Tony Curtis, who "introduced" Damon Packard's Reflections of Evil). But the first Bears is the best.

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