The Bad News Bears (1976) 720p

Movie Poster
The Bad News Bears (1976) web - Movie Poster
Comedy | Drama
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
102 min
IMDB Rating:
7.3 / 10 
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Directors: Michael Ritchie [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Former minor leaguer Morris Buttermaker is a lazy, beer swilling swimming pool cleaner who takes money to coach the Bears, a bunch of disheveled misfits who have virtually no baseball talent. Realizing his dilemma, Coach Buttermaker brings aboard girl pitching ace Amanda Whurlizer, the daughter of a former girlfriend, and Kelly Leak, a motorcycle punk who happens to be the best player around. Brimming with confidence, the Bears look to sweep into the championship game and avenge an earlier loss to their nemesis, the Yankees.


  • The Bad News Bears (1976) web - Movie Scene 1
  • The Bad News Bears (1976) web - Movie Scene 2
  • The Bad News Bears (1976) web - Movie Scene 1

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A kids' movie you may not want your kids to watch

I had some reservations about watching "The Bad News Bears". I didn't grow up with the movie, and baseball isn't exactly a big deal in Australia.

I was surprised by what I saw.

I think this one may have been made before "child stars" became such a massive part of pop culture, with the two Coreys in the '80s and Macaulay Culkin in the '90s.

It's also before Hollywood began churning out kids' movies like paint-by-numbers.

Sure, there are still many of the cliches we know and many of us will probably never tire of: the cynical, down-and-out coach, either a has-been or a never-was, gets stuck with a ragtag children's team, none of whom show any promise, and yet many of whom capture our hearts with their quirky individuality: there's the nerd, the misunderstood delinquent from the wrong side of the tracks, the fat kid, the ethnic minorities, and eventually... the girl (ta da).

But what's interesting about the "Bad News Bears" is that it comes to you rough around the edges - edges that Disney would completely remove with their "Mighty Ducks" flicks, among many others. For one thing, the language is quite harsh. I never thought I would see a so-called "Family" movie from America that you wouldn't be able to show in a school classroom, but here we are. Not only is there near-constant swearing, but one of the kids lets loose with some appalling racial epithets not once but twice, and the movie treats it more as funny than shocking.

Plus, the team doesn't really seem to proceed that much, and nor does the Matthau character - as who else but the crusty coach - really soften THAT much over the course of the movie. Emilio Estevez in "Champions" and John Candy in "Cool Runnings" both had shame in their past that they had to recover from by, er, helping their team win (?). "The Bad News Bears" doesn't take pains to underline its cliches the way that movie did.

What you end up with, I think, is a movie which is a whole lot more real than any of those. The cliches are there but you have to dig to find them. "The Bad News Bears" is a nostalgiac classic for anyone who grew up with it, but I find it unlikely parents or teachers would show this to their kids over "Champions". This one asks a little more of them, including maturity.

Still Holds Up

The Bad News Bears?(1976) This is a classic sports?comedy about an aging, down-on-his-luck ex- minor leaguer coaches a team of misfits in an ultra-competitive California little league. It stars?Walter Matthau?and?Tatum O'Neal. This is one of my favorite movies from my childhood. Considered crass and crude in its day, it's now received cult status. The film garnered two sequels, a television series, and a 2005?remake. It also received multiple award nominations. The remake wasn't necessary, as I believe the original still holds up, despite the critics' problem with the drinking, smoking, and profanity. This a great representation of comedy from the era.

Strangely Maybe the Best Fictional Sports Film of All-Time

While "Rocky" was about an athlete overcoming obstacles to pursue a dream, "The Natural" centered on an older man's comeback in professional sports, and "Jerry McGuire" told a story of transcendence between a sports agent and his fiery unpredictable client, "The Bad News Bears" focused much more on organic down-to-earth issues. Aside from films derived from real-life true stories, such as "42", "Hoosiers", and "Rudy", "The Bad News Bears" may be the most poignant fictional sports film ever produced. "The Bears" deals with prejudice, inequality, injustice, racism, and obsession, on one hand, while simultaneously searching and finding acceptance, bridge-building, and determination. Yet, the characters and setting are so real, the dialog so true-to-life, you don't realize you're being offered these larger ideas. They just emerge from the plight of the characters. Who knows whether or not the filmmakers were setting out to make a social statement, but they did which is the mark of a truly great story.

The essential plot is pretty basic. A group of junior high school age baseball players are thrown together to play on a team called "The Bears". They only have one thing in common: they are, for the most part, terrible. They can't pitch, they can't bat, and they can't field. Walter Matthau, in one of his best performances since "The Odd Couple", plays Morris Buttermaker, a swimming pool cleaner who is asked by a City Councilman to coach this team of athletically challenged misfits. The Councilman had filed a lawsuit against the city because the Little League was excluding players with less ability, and the Bears team was the city's "restitution", allowing less-skilled kids a chance to play the game.

What makes the film as good as it is has to do with the characters of the players as much as Matthau as Buttermaker. These kids were literally ripped right out of reality, and seem so similar to the kids I played with when I was of junior high age that it's almost scary. I can't name them all, but I offer a few of the ones which stick in my mind. In no particular oder: Toby, son of the councilman, who's probably the most vocal of the kids, Ogilvie, the most intellectual of the boys but not the best player, Amanda, their best pitcher and the only female in the league, Kelly, the trouble-maker who smokes and rides a Harley but is an amazing outfielder and hitter, Tanner, my favorite character, the shortest but craziest of the team who would give Napoleon Bonaparte a run for his money when he takes on the entire 7th grade. He defends Lupus against some bullies at one point in the film. Lupus is perhaps the worst player on the team and shows little knowledge of social decorum. At first Tanner and the others are put-off by Lupus, but at one point the team appreciates him.

At first, there seems little hope for this group of unskilled oddballs when they're slaughtered during their first game. However, as the film progresses we learn more about the characters and how they start to pull for one another. Several of the Bears are either dismissed or harassed at various moments in the story, and the teammates begin to learn to stick up for one another, both on and off the field. As a result they slowly begin to play better. Even Buttermaker changes during the story. At first he's not the best coach, but he starts to see things in his players the other teams around the league don't see. We also witness the obsession and over-zealousness of the parents, whose attitude becomes more about the kids winning than simply experiencing the game. In the climactic final game, Buttermaker makes a realization which is as profound as any in sports films of this type.

This is just an incredible story which says much more about modern culture, particularly about young people, then it may have set out to do. The dialog seems like it was derived right out of a junior high school baseball diamond. While most child characters speak dialog which is unrelated to their age and experience, the script of the Bad News Bears must have come from the mouths of babes, literally. I imagine the screenwriters must have spent time at actual Little League games and written down the dialog. The ending is one of the best in all of sports films, and it is not only completely believable but it fits with the rhetoric of the entire film. An absolute breath of fresh air, especially if you're tired of those fictional sports films where you can guess the outcome.
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