Entertainment Weekly - 07/29/2005
"[T]he tweaks are subtle and unobtrusive, as Linklater -- proven in SCHOOL OF ROCK to be a natural leader of yoots -- brings transgression up to code for the 21st century era of PG-13."
New York Times - 07/22/2005
"[An] enjoyable remake....Filled with small, cute kids and large, goofy laughs and buoyed by fine supporting work from Greg Kinnear and Marcia Gay Harden..."
Rolling Stone - 08/11/2005
"Thornton whacks the laughs out of the park without breaking a sweat. In this game, he's the undisputed MVP."
Sight and Sound - 09/01/2005
"Thornton is again perfect: his drowsy, Southern growl complements his scalpel-sharp comic timing to blend a precise chemistry of honey, salt and bile."
Uncut - 10/01/2005
"[A] punk-ass anti-sports film loaded with bile and invective, and as politically incorrect as you like."
Hollywood's tradition of remaking classic movies continues with this 21st-century updating of the 1976 romp, THE BAD NEWS BEARS. Acclaimed director Richard Linklater (THE SCHOOL OF ROCK, DAZED AND CONFUSED) pays respect to Michael Ritchie's original film by updating it rather than reinventing it. Stepping into the tough-to-fill shoes of Walter Matthau, Billy Bob Thornton plays the liquor-swilling, foulmouthed Morris Buttermaker, who has agreed to coach a Little League team for the paycheck. Unfortunately for him, his assembled team consists of the league's most inept outcasts. Gradually, however, Buttermaker's determination wins out, to the point where he recruits an ex-girlfriend's gifted daughter, Amanda Whurlitzer (Sammi Kane Kraft), to step onto the pitcher's mound. The team is complete when local bad boy Kelly Leak (Jeffrey Davies) lends his overflowing talent to the cause. Soon, the Bears are climbing their way to the top of the standings, resulting in a championship showdown with the Yankees, who are managed by the ridiculously pompous Coach Bullock (Greg Kinnear).
As with 2003's THE SCHOOL OF ROCK, Linklater proves he has an uncanny ability to draw out compelling performances from child actors. But it is Thornton who steals the show. Incorporating elements from his characters in BAD SANTA and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, his variation on the Morris Buttermaker character is another finely crafted achievement, a reprehensible man who somehow remains likeable and compelling. The script from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa throws a few modern curveballs into the mix, yet they still remain faithful to Bill Lancaster's original vision, resulting in a crowd-pleasing film that is definitely not intended for young children.