Release Date:  May 13, 2005
Rating:  PG (for thematic elements, language and some crude humor)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  95 min.
Director:  Jesse Dylon
Actors:  Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Mike Ditka, Kate Walsh, Dylan McLaughlin, Josh Hutcherson

Am I the only person annoyed by Will Ferrell?  I mean, I know the guy’s famous and all, but is it too much to ask for him not to make so many completely stupid movies?  In fact, is it too much to ask of Hollywood in general?

In another astoundingly original plot, we meet super-loser Phil Weston (Ferrell), a vitamin salesman who has lived life in the shadow of his domineering father, Buck (Robert Duvall).  While Phil can barely even hit a fly with a flyswatter – much less a ball of any kind – Buck, who now owns a sporting goods store, has spent his life around athletics.  In fact, Buck coaches his son’s little league soccer team.  And by “son,” I do not mean Phil.  I mean Buck’s second son (Josh Hutcherson), from his second marriage to a young hottie he met at the A&P.  Also on the team is Buck’s grandson (Dylan McLaughlin), Phil’s son.  But the two boys are as different as Phil and Buck.  Buck’s son leads the top-ranked Gladiators in goals, whereas Phil’s son stays on the bench – courtesy of his grandfather, who is determined to win, at all cost.

When Buck trades his grandson to the bottom-ranked Tigers, Phil steps in as coach, pitting himself against his dad.  Phil then enlists the help of Buck’s nemesis and neighbor, Mike Ditka (the one and only), former coach of the Chicago Bears, who despises Buck and will do anything to humiliate him.

I’m sure you can guess the rest of the story.  In fact, if you’re over 30, you’ve seen it before.  It’s called “The Bad News Bears” and it’s coming out again this summer.  Not this film, but the real one.  And we can only hope it will be better than this slapstick counterfeit.  Suffice to say that the Tigers make it to the championship where they learn that “winning isn’t everything” but still (ohhh! spoiler ahead) take home the title.

There are a lot of problems with this movie, which probably won’t keep kids away, given the mostly-appropriate content.  For one, it has an awful script with no originality, a terrible message (which is not the one above) and lots of overacting.  Second, it’s not a kid’s movie.  What’s that, you say?  But it’s PG!  It’s a “Bad News Bears” remake!  It’s Will Ferrell, coaching a bunch of kids!  All well and true, but when you’ve got no depth at all to any of the kid’s characters, and all together, they have less than a dozen lines, who else but adults could the story be for?  In fact, the action revolves around Ferrell’s emotional issues, which are played out through his petty rivalry with his father. But even that isn’t handled with anything more than superficial silliness, all highlighted by Ferrell’s “I’m so dumb” acting.

Here’s what we’re supposed to believe:  that Phil, who can’t jump more than 3 inches in the long jump, is on the college track team; that he’s “in college,” when he looks like he’s fast approaching the AARP; that he’s never had coffee in his entire life, doesn’t know how to order coffee in a coffee bar, and is completely unaware of the side effects of caffeine; that giving a bunch of ‘tweener boys birds (finches), without asking their parents, is a great idea; that carrying a soccer ball on your back for the entire length of the field, to score a goal, does not constitute a major game penalty; and that kids who have never received one single lesson in soccer (despite Ditka’s superfluous presence) are capable of (oohh! spoiler ahead!) winning the finals.  Dude!  I’m falling down laughing!