More Bad News

Columbus Alive | July 25, 2005
With Bad Santa’s underground success and director Terry Zwigoff’s oft-repeated citing of Bad News Bears as a big inspiration for it, a remake of the foul-mouthed Little League comedy seemed inevitable.

After seeing the new version, scripted by Bad Santa writers Glen Ficarra and John Requa and directed by Richard Linklater (School of Rock), a remake also seems totally superfluous. Original Bears screenwriter Bill Lancaster receives credit for the new film as well, but only because so much of his screenplay from the 1976 version has been re-appropriated for 2005.

As Coach Buttermaker, Billy Bob Thornton taps the same vein as his Bad Santa performance but tones down the debauchery and the alcohol-induced psychosis. The misfit players he whips into shape, brought into the league by a court order secured by single parent Marcia Gay Harden, resemble the original child cast in both body and spirit, with the addition of a player in a wheelchair.

Greg Kinnear brings more smarminess to the new version as a rival coach, and there are a few cultural updates (skateboarding replaces air hockey), but little else has changed after almost 30 years.

Judged on its own, Linklater’s Bears isn’t as lively as School of Rock, but it’s amusing family entertainment, as long as parents can handle the language, which earns its PG-13 rating, and the numerous references to top-heavy strippers. Given how well the original has held up, however, and that it’s available for just the cost of a video rental, a cover version this faithful is pointless.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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