20 September 2004

Bernie Mac 3K

I saw Mr. 3000 tonight as a way to kick back a bit after the WI retreat (which isn't all fun & games you know). Plus I need to do something to distract myself from two straight Yankee shellackings of the Red Sox...what better than a movie about baseball?

Anyway, the film was so-so, definitely not worth seeing in the theatre. I'm going to try to pull a Brody here, though and tease out the nice bits and highlight how the film could be made a lot more solid. The premise is that a brash baseball player (Bernie Mac) collects his 3000th career hit and retires on the spot to milk his fame and coast into Cooperstown. 9 years later, as he's about to be voted into the Hall, a record keeping error is discovered which means that 3 of his hits don't count. So he returns to a last place team midseason to try to collect 3 hits and rejoin the elite 3000 club.

The plotlines running through the film are Mr. 3K trying to puruse a former flame from his ballplaying days and his character change from looking out only for his own self-interest to trying to help nudge a bunch of young guys on a losing team toward playing better. The latter bit doesn't go overboard and have him lead them to a World Series or anything — they just try to move up from fifth to third place in their division — it creates meaningful conflict without seeming farfetched.

All these pieces are OK, and there are some funny bits, but they don't really manage to stitch everything together very well. The progress of Bernie's character isn't coherent at all. He jumps from being a big jerk to a role model for no clear reason. Then he starts acting selfish again, also for no clear reason. I felt like the stages of his development needed to be clearer in the writers' minds and then crafted more carefully. The love-interest was similarly poorly implemented. She never felt like a real person and she never put up enough resistance to make that story seem interesting. I just wanted to see each person make decisions that felt like they made sense in the context of everything else.

I think the stoy idea is cute, there were some neat-o baseball shots and angles that made it fun to watch and they have a few nice bits such as the minor character of the team's manager. In that sense they manage to take the very particular lifestyle of pro ball players and create an engrossing world in which to set their film. Then they did a bit of a hack job putting the story into that world.

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