Last week, we covered four baseball films currently on Netflix. This week, we revisit one of them: the sequel to “The Bad News Bears,” “Bad News Bears in Breaking Training.”
This film was released a year after “The Bad News Bears.” After the Bears took second place to the Little League champions, the Yankees, the Bears return for more baseball.
This time, the team is coached by Mr. Manning (Dolph Sweet), a stern no-nonsense barrel-chested man from the local high school. Mr. Manning wastes no time in explaining the premise of the film and what he wants this team to accomplish.
“Gentlemen, we have a serious game coming up at in between a double-header at the Houston Astrodome,” he says. “The winner of this game will play a team in Japan. Gentlemen, I expect to be prepared to win this game.”
This is less than four minutes into the film. The Bears have other plans.
Directed by Michael Pressman, “Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” follows a similar storyline: a foul-mouthed ragtag team of children baseball players overcome high expectations. And there’s a lot to overcome, including expectations from “The Bad News Bears’” audiences. Missing from the film are Tatum O’Neal and Walter Matthau’s characters; an amateur New Jersey pitcher (Jimmy Baio) and an even more absent coach (William Devane) try to fill their roles.
Of course, they’re not the only people missing from this film. Pressman takes over for Michael Ritchie, who directed the original 1976 classic. The script attempts to overcompensate for these very noticeable absences by adding more screen time for the child actors. Tanner Boyle (Chris Barnes) has narration in this film, in which he reads postcards he sends to his best friend Timmy Lupus (Quinn Smith). George Gonzales and Jaime Escobedo, who play Hispanic brothers Jose and Miguel Agilar, actually have lines in this film and the audience briefly meets their family. These expansions don’t help improve the plot; they just reinforce the characters’ stereotypes.
Written by Paul Brickman, “Bad News Bears in Breaking Training,” is forced and contrived, relying on the audience’s sympathies to the film and characters. In the title sequence, bad boy Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley) rides his motorbike on the baseball field, drowning out Coach Manning’s screams. The scene, like much of the film, is melodramatic and over-the-top, adding nothing to the franchise.
“Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” does attempt to expand on Kelly Leak’s backstory; however, their contrived plot makes Leak appear more like a moody teenager rather than a truly sympathetic heroic character.
But for better or for worse, “Bad News Bears” hit a home run in 1976; unfortunately for us movie critics, we have to sit through all their strike outs as well.
“Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” was directed by Michael Pressman.
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