A review of a classic movie about baseball and underdogs.
The Bad News Bears Movie Poster- Wikipedia
In the mid 1970s, the classic television commercial by General Motors had America singing ?baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.? GM was right in that there is nothing more quintessential American than baseball ? it is America?s favorite pastime.
Not only do Americans love baseball, but Americans also love the underdog. That is why Michael Ritchie?s 1976 film, The Bad News Bears,is the best baseball movie of all time.
From the beginning, the film sets up the Bears as being a team that must overcome unimaginable odds in order to be winners.
Alcoholic and former minor league baseball player, Morris Buttermaker (played by Walter Matthau) is recruited by a city councilman to coach a Little League baseball team called ?The Bears.?
According to the movie?s storyline, the councilman is also an attorney and filed a lawsuit against the league because they wouldn?t allow the least skilled athletes to play. In order to settle the suit, the league agrees to add on The Bears as an additional team in the Southern California Little League.
What makes The Bears unique in the league is that the team is composed entirely of misfits who could not make the other teams.
Buttermaker himself is a misfit in that he drinks excessively (and continues to do so throughout the film). He is joined by a near-sighted pitcher named Rudi Stein who couldn?t hit the broad side of a barn door and is routinely asked to try and get hit by a pitch so he can get on base.
Unlike the pitcher, the catcher, Mike Engelberg, is a good hitter but is morbidly obese and can often be seen eating food while wearing his catcher?s gear. Ahmad-Abdul Rahim is a Black Muslim who plays in the outfield and admires the Hall of Fame outfielder, Hank Aaron.
Tanner Boyle, the shortstop, serves as the foul mouthed and scrappy comic relief of the film that routinely makes ethnic slurs and calls Timmy Lupus ?a booger-eating moron.?
In short, this multicultural motley crew of Bears are all outsiders to the other players and parents in the film.
When The Bears play their opening game, they are not even able to get a single out and after giving up twenty-six runs, Buttermaker forfeits the game.
Scene from The Bad News Bears ? IMDB.com
Soon, the team gets some unlikely help from tomboy Amanda Whurltizer (played by Tatum O?Neal), the twelve year old daughter of one of Buttermaker?s ex-girlfriends and Kelly Leak (played by Jackie Earle Haley), a cigarette smoking, motorcycle riding troublemaker who also happens to the be the best athlete in the area.
With tomboy Amanda on the mound and bad boy Kelly in the outfield and in the batter?s box, The Bears start gaining confidence and winning games.
Eventually, these outsiders make it to the league championship game.
However, in spite of their struggle to make it to the top in the Southern California Little League, Buttermaker and The Bears come to the realization that it?s not the win that counts, but how you play the game.
The Bad News Bears was such a successful film that it was followed by two sequels: The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training in 1977 and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan in 1978. In addition, there was also a Bad News Bears television series on CBS from 1979?1980 and a 2005 remake of the 1976 film.
Movie trailer for The Bad News Bears
The Bad News Bears makes you root for the underdog and remember why baseball is such a beloved sport. It?s as American as apple pie.