After seeing this remake I wanted to shout: “Bad news for the viewers!” Yes, it’s that bad. If you haven’t seen the original, you might find this movie to be slightly more pleasurable than a fastball in the gut.
Topping Walter Matthau who was already famous for his portrayal of a slob in the original Bears and The Odd Couple, was going to be an uphill battle for Billy Bob Thorton. Factor in a young Tatum O’Neal who was much more convincing than the new Amanda Wurlitzer (what’s her name?) actress who seemed more bewildered than talented. The new Kelly Leak is more pretty boy than troublemaker — who did the casting?
The new Bears seriously suffers from a lack of many of the strengths of the prior Bears: notably the originality and believability of a misfit group of kids thrown together with a drunk, disinterested coach. Little substories and character backgrounds were inexplicably altered like Ahman who used to idolize a legendary outfielder and now looks up to … Mark McGwire? Huh? McGwire is yesterday’s news. How about Barry Bonds? At least he is still playing! (ok, well he’s on the disabled list, but he’s an otherwise active player). Oh, but they did manage to throw in a corked bat … puh-lease.
Billy Bob Thornton’s acting is constipated throughout most of this film. He’s like intentionally ripping off his Bad Santa character instead of paying homage to Matthau’s artistry. Also, he’s an exterminator instead of a pool cleaner? Why? So we can see him dump a cooler full of rats into a garbage only to stock it with [gasp] non-alcoholic beer and ice? Yeah, real shock value there.
So the Bears are drinking non-alcoholic beer? Is that the ultimate statement of 2005 political correctness? The kids swearing seems extraneous and contrived rather than shocking and funny. A wheel-chair bound Bears player? Insulting and absurd.
Almost everything that was entertaining in the original Bears is watered down and ruined including any semblance of a touching daughter-father type relationship between Buttermaker and pitcher Amanda. The characters are simply mailing it in for a much, much better original. The only thing Bears has going for it, is an open invitation to crack open the original Bears DVD and watch a real comedy — oh, and to drink a real beer.
The only thing I can imagine worse than this would be trying to remake: Bad News Bears Breaking Training or that godawful Japanese Bears sequel. Fellow Blogcritic Film Cynic was similarly unimpressed. No more pointless remakes, please! Get the DVD triple pack instead of seeing this in the theater, much better money spent. Grade: F