Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Bad News Bears (1976)

The intent was to watch classic old films I hadn't seen, not rehash movies from my youth. So much for good intentions.

I saw The Bad News Bears when I was young. I don't know if I saw it in the theater, but I certainly saw it when it was still fairly new. I saw the sequels and the TV series. I was a baseball nut as a kid and still am to a point. I saw it as an adult, maybe ten years ago. I don't remember. I watched it again with fresh eyes, perhaps tainted with nostalgia.

Walter Matthau performance was amazing. He embodied the broken down drunk. But when he starts caring about the kids a slow transformation happens. His eyes, dim from cheap beer and whiskey, become observant. He sees the effect of his actions, and those of others. Unless you pay attention, you will miss it.

Tatum O'Neal was unbelievable. She all but stole the movie. The interaction between her character and Matthau's was classic. Great stuff. You can't not fall in love with her.

The Bad News Bears was the precursor of all youth sports films (Mighty Ducks, Ladybugs, etc.) but this was hardly a family film. Drinking, language, and provocative dialogue from pre-teens. One kid smokes through much of the film. Released today it would be PG-13.

I'll be seeing this movie again. The tired jokes are like old friends. My mature eyes found more to enjoy. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. Very surprising. AMRU 4.

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