Baseketball. Zucker Brothers 1998.

Before watching the movie:

I remember clearly that this movie came out when I was in grade school. I think my friends liked it, but I can’t remember any specific people who definitely saw it. That’s a good thing, because it seems to definitely be a more (im)mature comedy than I realized at the time. The kind of thing that kids shouldn’t see, and adults shouldn’t want to see.

However, after a couple downer weeks, I’m looking for something light, and South Park creators + Zucker brothers sounds like it would fit the bill.

After watching the movie:

In order to win a bet and get girls, slackers Joe Cooper and Doug Remer invent a driveway game designed to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknessess: Baseketball. Basketball shots from certain distances are worth certain numbers of bases, and the defending team’s only actions are to try to psyche out the shooter and rebound missed shots. The game captures the attention of their neighborhood and then a rich old man tired of the way professional sports have had the heart monetized out of them, and he invests in their game. Five years later, Baseketball is the new national craze, when the owner of the league dies and wills it to Coop, with the condition that if Coop and Doug’s team (the Milwaukee Beers) loses the next season, the league goes to his trophy wife. Greedy investor Baxter Cain tries to get Coop to sell out, but he won’t. Coop is busy trying to woo the director of a Make-A-Wish Foundation knockoff, and keep the core principles of the game in place. But the humble financial aspirations of the league mean low pay for players, which is ripe for creating tension between Coop and his friends.

For a late Zucker/Zucker  “what happened to the good old days” film, this is pretty good (for a more over the top version of this, see An American Carol). This movie is both funny and a message about how pro sports are losing touch with their audiences and vice versa (accidental Super Bowl tie-in?). The jokes are rather hit and miss, and not nearly as outrageous as classics like Airplane. To be more accurate, most of the jokes that are supposed to be outrageous are overstatedly crude, for instance a nude locker room scene where the guys have four-foot penises.

The story feels pretty formulaic, but no moreso than any other sports movie or light comedy. The formula is there to hang jokes on and have fun poked at it. Coop and Doug have a rift because Doug sells out, but to ridiculous levels. Coop is exonerated to Jenna right when she needs to be by happening to see a story about him on TV.

I hate to make this entirely about the jokes, but absolutely the best part of this film is the way the teams and their paraphernalia are linked to their city’s stereotypes. I’m trying very hard to come up with things to say about the movie that aren’t about the jokes, but there isn’t much to comment on. Matt and Trey are Matt and Trey. They’re pretty limited character actors. They got into acting because they didn’t have anyone else to play the characters they wanted to write. I don’t know how much of this is their sense of humor, but it’s good, whoever’s responsible.

This film is an enjoyable light watch that has a surprisingly strong message. It’s a great choice for a mood lift, though some of the humor may be tasteless.

Watch this film: as the laziest underdog sports movie ever.

Don’t watch this movie: if you can’t take variable raunchiness.

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