Bad News Bears [2005]

In a fitting follow-up to Bad Santa and Friday Night Lights, Billy Bob Thornton makes the most of the remake trend in Bad News Bears. He's just the right guy to inherit Walter Matthau's role from the original 1976 version about a lousy Little League team baseball team coached by a curmudgeonly drunk, and the original team of misfits has been updated (but not upgraded) to an ethnic mix that includes an Indian math whiz, a pair of Latino twins, and a paraplegic kid who doesn't play until the final championship game. It's a little sad to see a talented director like Richard Linklater doing an unnecessary remake, but his experience on School of Rock made him the obvious choice to mine comedy gold from the collision of Thornton and a batch of unruly, prepubescent kids (including Sammi Kraft, an all-star Little Leaguer in the role originated by Tatum O'Neal). With Marcia Gay Harden and Greg Kinnear in supporting roles, this isn't family fare (the potty-mouthed kids deservedly earned a PG-13 rating), but Thornton's easygoing presence makes it worthwhile for anyone who's not too attached to the original version. --Jeff Shannon

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