The Reviewing Network’s Favorite Movies #40: The Bad News Bears

The Bad News Bears is a 1976 American sports comedy film directed by Michael Ritchie. It stars Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal. The film was followed by two sequels, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training in 1977 and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan in 1978, a short-lived 1979–80 CBS television series, and a 2005 remake.

The original screenplay was written by Bill Lancaster. Notable was the score by Jerry Fielding, which is an adaptation of the principal themes of Bizet’s opera Carmen.

The film was notable in its time for the amount of vulgarity (including profanity and ethnic slurs) placed into the mouths of the various child actors who played the principal roles (specifically, a memorable Tanner Boyle, played by Chris Barnes, quoted as calling his teammates en masse “a bunch of Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eating moron”). Most of the questionable dialogue was used for comic effect. A true product of the mid-70s, it includes a scene that would most likely no longer be allowed in a PG-rated film today: an inebriated Buttermaker drives the players, who are not wearing seatbelts, in an open-top convertible, with a broken windshield.

Everything about the original film just comes together in the best way possible, Walter Matthau’s Buttermaker, some great early performances from Tatum O’ Neal and Jackie Earle Haley, a good supporting cast, the music, which is an adaptation of the principal themes of Carmen, the kids are more memorable, the story is more well put together as it was one of the first films to do a story like this.

You really can’t top the original film and while the remake is good, the overall winner is the original 1976 Bad News Bears, the superior film.

And if you don’t like it, you can take your apology AND your trophy and shove it straight up your ass.

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