Sato (who isn't really a critic, just someone who wants to be
how's the whoring?
Rock Star is "Worth Watching!"
Jeepers Creepers is "Worth watching!"
Summer Catch is "worth watching!"
of all, Steven Sato says Two Can Play That Game is "Hilarious!
It's a dream cast that delivers!" while also telling people
it's not worth seeing in the theater. Wait for it to come out
a two-faced whore is the worst kind.
Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.
The Bad News Bears
"Were in the shitstorm of Fall now, folks."
When you look at the art of storytelling through the ages,
you find there aren't many different classic archetypes. Most
of today's stories are ripoffs of Greek, Shakesperean and Encyclopedia
Brown models of greed, lust, tragically-doomed pansies and cop-buddies
in over their heads. There's nothing wrong with retelling the
same old stories. It's part of the tradition. Hell, the Iliad
and Odyssey attributed to Homer aren't the same stories that
old blind bugger told. They're the interpreted and evolved versions
that finally were put to paper by someone else. Akira Kurosawa's
Ran is a damn good interpretation of Shakespeare's King
Lear, West Side Story's a new way of telling Romeo and
Juliet, and Candy Bottom's gang-bangs with Ismene and the "man
who had come from Argos" create a new and profound understanding
of Sophocles' Antigone. I assure you, the original play had nowhere
near as many silvery strands of hot jizz dripping off hot chicks'
noses, and that helps us understand Antigone's accusation that
Ismene had done "holy things criminally." The point
is, retelling a story is fine if you have something new to add,
or a fresh interpretation.
But, the great tradition of expanding and reinventing a classic
story falls apart in the hands of those lazy, unimaginative grassfuckers
in Hollywood. Sometimes they get it right, and they expand on
a classic story. Other times, they just riff on someone else's
hard work like a shitty bar band churning out "Everybody's
Working for the Weekend" for the thousandth time. The lazy
bastards don't add anything, they just grab the idea and try
to cash in. The unimaginative ones want to reinvent the story,
but are incapable. All they do is twist it up and soil it, like
a pair of my boxers, without ever really understanding what made
the story a classic.
Hardball is the latest example of Hollywood's penchant
for sucking a classic dry. As we all know, this story of Keanu
Reeves as a degenerate and drunken gambler who has to coach a
little league team to pay off a gambling debt is yet another
retelling of a classic Greek myth. In ancient times, the boozy
and doomed Dionysus was hired under the table by Zeus to coach
Hercules' baseball team because Zeus was too busy banging the
snot out of Aphrodite to do it himself. In 1976, director Michael
Ritchie reinvented the story for our times in The Bad
News Bears. That movie has it all over the shitty, self-satisfied,
cheap-sentiment Hardball. Hardball probably would
have worked as a Lifetime Channel flick starring Tony Danza aimed
at women who don't know and don't want to know anything about
baseball. Sadly, Keanu Reeves is no Tony Danza.
Both movies have alcoholic losers forced into coaching little
league baseball for money. Neither coach wants to be there and
starts out crotchety. Both flicks are about teams that are by
far the worst in their leagues. Both have the hardass coaches
of other teams as the bad guys who want the losers out of the
league. Against all odds, both of these loser squads end up in
the championship game.
The Bad News Bears is honest to the kids, to the game
and to the modest transformations people can make. It's about
the very real issue of kids' self-esteem and it knows how much
kids are capable of and what's important to them. Hardball
is concerned with Hallmark sentiments and easy solutions. The
difference is as simple as the casting: Walter Matthau is a way
more convincing curmudgeonly drunk than Keanu "Holy shit!
I STILL can't act" Reeves.
Bears is about the kids, typical miserable middle-class
kids in danger of having so little self-esteem that they grow
up to be unemployed gas jockeys. The film is beautifully shot
in that washed-out California late afternoon light. When the
kids fight, it looks like kids fighting, rolling around on the
ground, scrapping and rarely landing a punch. When they play
baseball, they look like kids, making mistakes, falling down,
letting easy grounders get by. They are real kids playing baseball,
and that's a fuckload harder to capture on film than you might
think. They are ragged, dirty and appropriately foul-mouthed.
What comes out of their mouths sounds like the same experiments
in filth I conducted on Indian Guide campouts and baseball diamonds.
Matthau is an unredeemed drunk. He starts the movie with a beer,
and he ends with one. And all the way through, the guy drinks
like a fish with the shakes.
Hardball doesn't give a flying fuck about the kids.
It is about Reeves and how he is magically transformed from a
selfish loser to a saint who just loves kids so much he wants
to be with them all day. All this change just by coaching little
league for a few weeks. With this movie, there are no shades
of gray, no in-between: Reeves has to be the lowest loser, and
the kids have to be super-duper sympathetic, because the filmmakers
only know how to use a fucking sledgehammer. Reeves is always
shot grimy, the kids might as well have fucking halos on their
heads. Their mouths are chock full of valuable lessons for Reeves.
Their lives are readily given in the service of the BIG, FUCKING
IMPORTANT MESSAGE about how we shouldn't be so fucking selfish.
It's a heavy load for the kids to carry, but they seem better
equipped for it than the filmmakers.
At the beginning of the movie, Reeves is a drunk, but about
halfway through, he simply stops drinking. No fucking problem.
No shakes, no vomiting and headaches. It's just that that character
trait got in the way for the filmmakers.
You know what? Fuck Hollywood. Fuck director Brian Robbins
and fuck writer John Gatins for the way they treat kids. Fuck
all Hollywood pricks who make big message movies about giving
back to the community by using kids as angelic props. It's insincere
horseshit that they clearly don't believe. If they did, they
would try to understand how kids act, how they think. They'd
treat the kids as more than cute little joke and message deliver
machines. They'd give the kids some personality beyond the ridiculous
politically-correct sainthood these black boys get. And they
wouldn't kill one off just because it's the cheapest, fastest
and laziest way to make an audience get the fucking point. I've
said it before, and I'll say it again: killing a kid is the cinematic
equivalent of crack. It's a cheap, easy high.
And double-fuck John Gatins for single-handedly trying to
destroy baseball by using it as the backdrop for two gag-inducing
movies in one summer (he also wrote the ass-shredder Summer
Catch). For what he's done, he might as well have Freddie
Prinze, Jr. drop his pants and take a shit on Cal Ripken, Jr.
In The Bad News Bears, the team sucks. They can't win
and they aren't going to be magically turned into winners. So
Matthau brings in ringers: a girl pitcher and the toughest punk
in the neighborhood. We see Matthau actually practice with the
kids, teach them fundamentals. We see him yell at them, throw
a beer at one kid, and get so caught up in trying to win that
he takes the fun out of it for them. It's only through the kids
silent disappointment that Matthau gets the idea. These kids
aren't playing to win so much as they are to learn self-respect.
They don't win the championship. They lose. But the little shits
done't care. They learned they aren't total losers, their self-esteem
is intact, and they sure look a hell of a lot happier than the
winners as they pour beer all over each other in celebration
of second place.
Of course, Hardball ends with the team winning the
championship. The filmmakers don't have the capacity to think
of anything more subtle. Winning material prizes is the only
thing Hollywood understands. Success is measured in cash, cars
and trophies. At the beginning of Hardball, they are the
shittiest team in the league, and although we barely see Reeves
teach them anything on the field, they become superstars. We
don't see a single kid grow through the season. Sure, a few make
180-degree changes as required by the script, but they're as
believable as my explanation to Mrs. Filthy about what happened
to the nice tablecloth. And the littlest guy, the kid who never
got a hit, drives in the winning run. Jesus Christ in a Strike-out,
Throw-out double play. It's like the producers gave Gatins a
bonus for every sports cliché he could drive into the
What really fucks the movie, what takes away from any time
that might have been spent with the kids, is the tedious tale
of Reeves' redemption. We spend half the movie watching him running
away from bookies he owes money to. It's supposed to add some
suspense to the movie, and maybe it would have if he weren't
so boring and underdeveloped. As it is, he's just bouncing from
one stereotyped thug to the next (the coldheart, the barber,
the kindhearted Irish barkeep).
One final thing that pisses me off about Hardball:
the makers don't even get the little details right. First, Reeves
bets even money with bookies. Bookies don't take even money.
There is something called the "vig," usually about
10%. That means that no bookie in the world lets you bet $1,000
to win $1,000. You bet $1,100 to win $1,000 and the other $100
is the bookie's profit. Second, how in the fuck are the Cubs
and White Sox playing each other at the same time the NBA season
is underway? Interleague play doesn't start until June, long
after the NBA regular season. Finally, if Reeves is meeting the
kids at 11:00 a.m. and then taking them to a ball game "in
an hour," why the fuck is the game at night? And why the
hell are the Cubs and White Sox playing in the old Tiger Stadium?
This kind of shit just proves the makers have no interest in
the truth, just warping time and characters to their own self-righteous
Fuck them. Five Combined Fingers for The Bad News
Bears and Hardball. Four go to the Bears
and you know what's left for Hardball. If I ever have
a kid, you know which one I'll let the little brat see.
Got 12 minutes? Check out my writing
and acting debut, Presto, P.I. Don't worry, it's free.
to tell Filthy something?