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Posted at 2:13 PM ET, 07/19/2005

No Bad News

By Jen Chaney

You know what's great about the "Bad News Bears" remake? It knows it's a remake.

It's not loaded down with contrived, contemporary plot twists, a la "Bewitched." It doesn't act like an "update on a classic" or a "reimagining of the original." With some very minor alterations, the Billy Bob Thornton version of "Bears" regurgitates almost everything from the 1976 comedy about a crusty, alcoholic burnout forced to coach a team of Little Leaguers who spew profanity more reliably than they score runs.

All of which raises the question: Why revisit it at all? The '76 version starring Walter Matthau still stands up remarkably well. The answer: Hollywood loves remakes because studio execs thrive on the reassurance that comes from releasing a movie with a title people recognize. Yes, it's lame. But at least the new "Bad News Bears" manages to be consistently funny and gleefully subversive. Get back to me in a month and let me know if the same can be said for the "Dukes of Hazzard." 

Credit certainly goes to Thornton (who almost always makes any movie better), the screenwriters (who also produced the off-color gem "Bad Santa") and Richard Linklater, who has to be one of the most versatile directors working today. Anyone who can make a cult classic like "Dazed and Confused," the talky romantic delights "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," then churn out anti-establishment mainstream movies like "Bears" and the fabulous "School of Rock" is a total stallion in my book.

I wonder if Linklater was the one who insisted that the storyline and characters in "Bears" stick so closely to the original. It's almost as if he's saying to Paramount Pictures: "You want a remake? I'll give you a remake!" It's the sort of thing "Dazed and Confused's" Randall "Pink" Floyd and Wooderson -- who, as we know, graduated from high school the same year the original "Bears" was released -- would do. And as far as I'm concerned, the world needs a little more Wooderson.

--Jen

By Jen Chaney  | July 19, 2005; 2:13 PM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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