The Bad News Bears (1976)
August 3, 2022 12:20 PM - Subscribe

Hard-drinking, ex-minor-league hopeful Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) grumpily agrees to coach a Little League team at the behest of lawyer-councilman Bob Whitewood (Ben Piazza), who has a vendetta against the league for excluding his marginally talented son from play. After failing with his new team of misfits, Buttermaker enlists feisty and gifted pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O'Neal) to lead the charge -- but can he find the luck and patience to whip these outcasts into shape?

Also stars Jackie Earle haley, Vic Morrow, and Joyce Van Patten. Written by Bill Lancaster (The Thing) and directed by MIchael Ritchie (Fletch).

Rated 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a touch over double what its 2005 remake starring Billy Bob Thornton netted.

Currently streaming in the US via DirecTV and the Cinemax app, if that is a thing that people actually still have. Also available for digital rental on various outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The formula where a total selfish jag is enlisted to coach a misfit team of youth athletes was copied over and over again after this, but never with the rowdy bawdiness, earthy believability, or authentically oddball ensemble this had. It's gold, just gold.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:21 PM on August 3, 2022 [5 favorites]

This is maybe the only jock movie that I could really identify with personally, due to the approximately 20 seconds that I lasted in Little League before admitting that even T-ball had been something of a challenge for me. I would have sworn that Jodie Foster had played the solitary girl member of the team. It's a good template for the scrappy-misfits-who-punch-way-above-their-weight trope. (It came out a few months before Rocky.) Wikipedia reminds me that one of the kids was named Timmy Lupus.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:13 PM on August 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

posted by COD at 4:01 PM on August 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

For some of us Gen Xers, Jackie Earle Haley's Kelly was the paradigm of a cool kid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2022 [6 favorites]

He turned me gay. Happened right there in the theater.
posted by mediareport at 7:15 PM on August 3, 2022 [6 favorites]

Being around the same age as the characters, and living in the San Fernando Valley at the time, this movie rang more true than anything I'd seen at the time, and probably since. It made me somewhat uncomfortable at the time, as the kids are a somewhat nasty lot, and seem somewhat feral, just like the kids I went to school with. Decades later, it triggers nostalgia more than anything.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:43 PM on August 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

I would have sworn that Jodie Foster had played the solitary girl member of the team.

She was cast in the role but dropped out to do Taxi Driver instead.
posted by profreader at 8:54 PM on August 3, 2022

Watched this many, many times. (More great Tatum: Paper Moon and Little Darlings.)
posted by Glinn at 6:40 AM on August 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Another film that was very much a product of its time. Nowadays, you'd get (rightly) fired if you tried to pitch something like Tanner's rant in a meeting.


Rolling Stone agrees...
posted by mikelieman at 7:55 AM on August 4, 2022

When talking to people younger than me who are fascinated with the 80s, I tell them to watch this movie. It was filmed in 1976, but my life as a kid in 1982 was pretty much exactly like this. Like 2N2222 says, feral.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 12:09 PM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

We watched this with our kids a couple years ago-wow, kid movies have changed. Drunk driving! 12 year old motorcycle dates! Pure gold.
posted by purenitrous at 2:44 PM on August 4, 2022

You can't make a better ending than Tanner and Lupus telling the Yankees where to stick it.

I am sure that this is wholly unoriginal for my age bracket, but our beer league softball team wore Bears jerseys with the Chico's Bail Bonds logo on back. The main difference between us and the real Bears is that we started off terrible and we ended terrible, too.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:49 AM on August 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

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