Bad News Bears Richard Linklater

While nostalgic remakes have become the groan-worthy entries in the summer movie line-up, there was at least hope for an update of this 1976 politically incorrect baseball movie based on the fact that it starred delightful curmudgeon Billy Bob Thorton, was penned by the screenwriters of the delightfully bawdy and foul-mouthed Bad Santa, and was helmed by Richard Linklater, whose work on School of Rock made young musicians the heart and soul of a film that should've been completely stolen by Jack Black. Billy Bob Thorton manages to steal Bad News Bears without even trying, but it appears no one else was putting in significant effort. Thorton's update of Buttermaker (now an exterminator instead of a pool cleaner) hits all the drunken, trash-mouthed, mean-spirited notes but it's the kids who disappoint in this near-mirror image remake. While the original (which featured the stunning arrival of Tatum O'Neal) populated its Bears team with distinct personalities, Linklater has cast to ethnic type rather than writing a script that fleshes out individual character (as he did with School of Rock). Also, probably for box office draw, the film pays more attention to Greg Kinnear (as a rival coach) and Marcia Gay Harden (as a mom with a taste for bad boy Buttermaker). And the screenplay by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa gives credit to the original by Bill Lancaster simply because they've hardly remade the film at all — they've simply re-filmed it. (In the extras, they call it a "remix.") The featurettes and lamest outtakes ever try to convince you that this is a sturdy update full of hilarious gags and strong, distinct personalities; if they put all the effort into convincing us after the fact, couldn't they have tried a little harder on the film itself? Plus: director and screenwriter commentary, more. (Paramount)