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This week:
Mr. 3000

Filthy says:
"I'd rather watcha Brewers-Diamondbacks game.

When I'm sitting through a movie as boring and obvious as Mr. 3000 my mind wanders a bit, like a Swiss sheep herder searching the rock outcroppings for his lost lamb, or maybe like, you know, one of those guys with the metal detectors on the beach whose looking for buried treasure or lost keys or a robot sex woman washed up from a Chinese freighter that he can fuck. Probably more like that. My mind drifts in and out of focus, catching enough of the story to know I don't give a fuck, and even if I did I wouldn't need to pay attention to get the gist.

I'm also pretty damn certain I didn't miss any jokes, because I hung on as long as I could to hear some. After all, Mr. 3000's star is Bernie Mac, and he can be pretty funny. As I learned, he can also suck worse than the chupacabra from the nightmares of a five-year-old Tijuana boy on acid.

Pretty early on in the movie I was thinking about my cousin Larry and how I sent him down to the Albertson's grocery store because they hire retards to box groceries and carry bags out to old ladies' cars. As a retard, he'd be excellent at this type if work. And he needs a job because he wants more Disney cartoon DVDs and to go to his special school's high school prom, which I imagine is a lot of kids drooling on paper-tableclothed folding tables while the epileptic ones seizure under a glittering disco ball, and Kenny Roger's "Lady" plays through the gymnasium P.A. system. I got Larry excited and got him an application but he didn't get the job. They gave it to a more qualified retard.

Then I drifted back to Mr. 3000. It's a pretty clever idea. A selfish, arrogant baseball star (Mac) retires after collecting his 3000th hit and learns nine years later that three hits were double counted. In the meantime, he's made his post-career life out of being "Mr. 3000." Fat and lazy, Mac must come out of retirement to get those three hits he needs to be voted into the Hall of Fame. That sounds great when you hear the premise, but then the movie goes and fucks it up like an alcoholic, back-alley plastic surgeon. It's stuffed with more platitudes than a Hallmark store, and so jam-packed with hoary sports cliches you'd swear it was a post-game news conference. Everyone gave 110 percent out there, and they played their A game, and there's no "I" in team, and even a prick can learn to love the game more than himself.

So, while the movie went through it's formulaic machinations, I was thinking about Lloyd at the Tavern and how he always bitches about his wife. It's her fault he's there. Me, I drink because I love when you're so drunk you can't feel your arms moving anymore and they can sneak up and scare the shit out of you. Lloyd is there because he can't stay home. His wife doesn't understand him. He says, "I could cure cancer, or build a rocket, but all my wife thinks I can do is take out the trash." Lloyd says she doesn't give him the space to be great and amazing, to achieve his potential, and that's why he comes to the Tavern. Once I said, "But you're not curing cancer; you're just getting drunk." "Getting drunk and thinking," he corrected.

Wandering out of my reverie, I watched Bernie Mac come back to his old team, the Milwaukee Brewers, to collect the three hits he needs. In the process, he observes these young players acting the way he did, and sees how destructive it is. He lectures them and fathers them. Meanwhile, he romances "tough" ESPEN reporter Angela Bassett. They had some good screws years ago, but Mac dicked her over a bunch of times. Now he tries again, showing her the new, softer Mac.

Have you ever had that crazy feeling, a genuine physical discomfort brought on by infatuation. I got it when I was younger. I've loved a few women, but only two I've been obsessed with enough to make me physically ache. At the time, I figured that's what love was, but in retrospect I can see how fucked up I was. These weren't healthy relationships, like I have with my wife. These girls wouldn't have told me to stop clipping nosehairs with a razor, or to cook the chicken breasts before eating them. But if one of those girls called me today, years after I saw them last, all that obsession would rise up like bile in my throat after a bender. I'd fight to suppress it, but end up puking out my heart. Even now, if one of those girls asked me to help her rob a bank, I'd do it, no questions asked. That's the stranglehold of obsession. With other girls I thought I loved, if they asked me, I wouldn't jump into it. I'd ask questions. What bank? What's my share? Can I just sit in the car? Doesn't the getaway driver need someone to man the stereo?

Mac can be a funny guy, but not when he doesn't have any jokes. A bunch of fucking pussies watered down this movie from a nasty comedy until it became a run-of-the-mill feel-good story of redemption. It's all so fucking formulaic it has nothing to say about modern baseball, sports stars or even Mac's character. So rather than bitter, we get soft and mushy. Mr. 3000 feels like one of those movies with about 100 screenwriters. Probably that's because it's a great idea, but nobody had any idea how to make a whole movie out of it. In the meantime, each new hack who got a crack at it leeched a little more life out of it and added more retreaded sports themes.

While Mac starts out an asshole, he quickly becomes uninteresting, and he doesn't even fight it. The story just leads us right where we expect, that Mac learns how to stop being a dick, learns to help his team, teaches the kids a valuable lesson and wins the girl's heart. About twenty minutes into it, I guessed (correctly) that it would end with Mac having the choice of getting his 3000th hit in his final at bat, or sacrifice to help his team. Guess which he does? It's just empty bullshit, driven more by what we expect than a real character or situation.

Knowing the movie's ending gave me time to sit in the darkened, empty theater and reflect on death. Knowing the end gave me plenty of time to think about my own death. I used to think it'd be cool to die young, with all this potential unfulfilled so I could be mythologized. But now I'm not young and I haven't done a God damn thing to be remembered for. My priorities have changed. I don't want to die anymore. Now I just want to be old and nasty and live alone and throw rocks at neighborhood dogs and just be a general burden on society. If society never set me up to be a hero, fuck 'em. They're gonna pay.

A couple other things I noticed as my mind drifted in and out of Mr. 3000 were that Bassett's character is said to be tough, but she never is. Everyone keeps saying she is, but she's a fucking coward who keeps coming back to Mac no matter how big a jerk he is. This is his character's reward not for being likable, but for being the main character. Getting her back is supposed to help us like him. Fuck that. And fuck the writers that made her such a soft wet-dream fantasy for jerks. The movie also tries to be authentic in its baseball details, but only succeeds on some. It spends way too much time setting up how Mac gets back to the majors, it features a dreadful exercise montage where Mac goes from wimpy to back in shape (but in reality his body is still flabby), it uses Dick Ensberg as the announcer when the great Bob Uecker really does broadcast Brewers' games. The movie also stars a lot of guys who don't really look or play like ballplayers. That'd be fine if the movie didn't waste so much time on minutiae to make us think it cared.

It's just a bad two hours of movie. One Finger for Mr. 3000 as a movie, but Four Fingers as two hours where you'll have nothing better to do than reflect on life.

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Steve Oldfield of Fox TV

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is "Four stars! A visually stunning film filled with heart-pounding adventure and clever humor! An instant classic. Don't miss it!"

Mr. 3000 is "A fun film--and not just for baseball fans!"

Filthy's Reading
Graham Greene - Fallen Idol

Listening to
Joe Liggins - Honeydripper