Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reviews: Mr. 3000

Mr. 3000 is a baseball comedy from a few years back starring Bernie Mac as a Prima Donna athlete who quits the game after achieving a milestone in career hits (3000 as the movie title which doubles as his nickname indicates) leaving his team in the middle of a pennant race without their selfish, ego driven star. But his post-baseball life is lacking. His support for the Hall of Fame falls short of enshrinement despite inching closer to induction every year. That is until a statistical error is discovered that erases 3 of his 3000 hits and erodes a third of his Cooperstown support. Because, as we all know, no one with 2,997 hits ever gets induced into the Hall.

Mac decides to come out of retirement at age 47, 9 years after leaving the game that despised him so much, just to reclaim those last 3 hits. This premise is completely absurd, even by sports movie standards which routinely stretch the boundaries of reality in favor of Hollywood storytelling. A ridiculous endeavor as the natural sports world is filled with dramatics. We don’t need every game to come down to the last at-bat/shot/round to create drama, but this idea seems lost in Tinseltown.

Mr. 3000 takes every sports movie cliché and adds to the pile, almost to the point of parody. These are the same characters we’ve seen before, and they’re more bereft of life than ever before. The older star trying to hang on? Check. The young cocky player who reminds the older star of his younger self? Check. The foreign player who hasn’t learned how to properly swear? Check. The movie play-by-play guy who sounds nothing like a real play-by-play guy, which makes me wonder if any writer has ever watched a game on TV before? Check. ESPN segments with real personalities reading lines you’d never actually hear them say? Check.

The movie also suffers from not being funny, a fatal flaw for most movies that rely on joke-telling to carry you through a cookie cutter plot. Bernie Mac is usually a funny guy, but nothing he recites here comes close to generating genuine laughs. And when your biggest and best comedian can’t bring the funny, you’re in trouble. Angela Bassett plays an ESPN reporter who probably would have been fired from her job before the end of the movie in reality.

Paul Sorvino plays Mac’s manager and doesn’t utter a word until the final 10 minutes of the movie. One of the movie’s biggest question marks is how he managed to keep his job for 10 seasons (He’s the manager before Mac’s retirement and is still around when he comes back 9 years later). There’s no way he would have survived 10 seasons when the team was struggling and in last place as they were when Mac made his comeback. Especially in Milwaukee.

Speaking of Milwaukee, where in the blue hell was Bob Uecker? Uecker made a name for himself as radio announcer Harry Doyle in Major League. In real life, Uecker is the play-by-play guy for the Brewers. You can’t tell me he was unavailable for the role here. He would have single handedly salvaged a portion of this mess, or at the very least, turned it into a beautiful disaster.

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