Polman: In praise of timeless ‘Bad News Bears’

From SABR member Jeff Polman at Seamheads.com on September 12, 2014:

One of the greatest baseball movies and American comedies of all time has been largely laying low in tall outfield grass for 38 years. Despite its commercial success,The Bad News Bears is rarely mentioned on critics’ lists of classic movies.

It’s high time it was put on the pedestal it deserves.

Recently, I attended a special American Cinematheque screening of Michael Ritchie’s 1976 film at the legendary Aero Theater in Santa Monica. It was introduced lovingly by Cinematheque spokesman Grant Moninger and Dan Epstein (author of Stars and Strikes, about the ’76 season), who were both seriously inspired by the work, praising its rebellious nature and honest depiction of painful adolescence. Moninger and Epstein also pointed out their disdain for the sentimental, Ken Burnsian approach to baseball, that the raw and qurky ’70s reality of The Bad News Bears connected with them instantly.

While I’m not one to criticize Burns’ Baseball—despite its occasional pomposity and east coast-centric nature, it’s still a gorgeous, heartfelt history of the game—I can see their point. The forced sentimentality of a lot of recent baseball cinema (42, Field of Dreams, and the When It Was a Game series, in which an overbearing, drippy score practically obliterates its rare and great color home movie footage) has become the unfortunate blueprint. A fresh, hilarious, honest film like The Bad News Bears probably couldn’t even get made today.

Read the full article here: http://seamheads.com/2014/09/12/in-praise-of-timeless-bears/

Originally published: September 15, 2014. Last Updated: September 15, 2014.