In one scene of 1976's The Bad News Bears, two members of the hated Yankees pick on a nerdy Bears player by filling his hat with ketchup. In the new remake, two members of the Yankees lock the boy into a porta-potty and tip it back and forth to each other.

This comparison of scenes pretty much sums up the execution of this remake about a drunk former major leaguer, Morris Buttermaker (Billy Bob Thornton), who coaches a ragtag group of misfit little leaguers. Changes in a remake are fine, but the problem is that even though the new Bad News Bears faithfully follows the original almost scene-for-scene, it makes little pointless tweaks apparently only there to distinguish it from the '76 flick. For instance, the porta-potty scene comes at the same point as in the old film, in an almost identical setting, and with very similar dialogue and outcome. So why the change? Who knows: The new scene isn't funnier, more modern, more effective, or more fitting. Like most of the movie's tweaks, this change is a side step at best. In fact, most of the funny jokes or interesting story points come from the original.

And unfortunately, like the example above, most of the changes are in the toilet. There's now a player in a wheelchair so the movie can make "cripple" jokes. A father character becomes a single mom for Buttermaker to sleep with. Buttermaker is an exterminator instead of a pool man to provide gross dead animal jokes. And the Bears' sponsor is no longer the very funny Chico's Bail Bonds, but is instead a strip club—which means stripper characters can now appear at games.

Of course, the original Bad News Bears weren't saints. Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) was constantly drinking—and even handed out beer to kids as a celebration. ...

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Bad News Bears
Our Rating
½ Stars - Poor
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for rude behavior, language throughout, some sexuality and thematic elements)
Directed By
Richard Linklater
Run Time
1 hour 53 minutes
Cast
Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden, Sammi Kane Kraft
Theatre Release
July 22, 2005 by Paramount Pictures
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