The Bad News Bears:(Paramount Home Entertainment, 7.12.2005)
Triple Play Collection
A lot of our beloved films are being reissued in attractive, modestly priced boxed sets containing all of their underwhelming sequels. Some have come equipped with updated features, while others boast new transfers. And then there are those that contain nothing except for fancy new cardboard, as is the case with The Bad News Bears Triple Play Collection. There's nothing new here except for a box to store the films. However, the price tag is so appropriate that one cannot complain.
For us collectors, this trend is actually a pretty swell idea -- who the hell would actually want to shell out twenty bucks for Robocop 3 when the trilogy is only a few bucks more? The ideal circumstance (for the DVD companies, anyway) is to persuade us suckers to purchase it in a reasonably priced set containing the entire trilogy. What results are modestly priced boxed sets that make these less than stellar sequels seem more enticing. As a collector, it surely doesn't hurt to get the whole saga at a bargain price, even if you're only going to watch it once and scoff.
The Bad News Bears Triple Play Collection -- another set of three previously released editions in one attractive package -- is the latest value pack from the folks at Paramount who are obviously desperate to make a quick dime on DVD in conjunction with the film's theatrical remake, directed by none other than indie auteur Richard Linklater.
How do the films hold up? Part one is still a classic; in fact, it may be better appreciated today than ever before. Where else can you hear a ten year old nonchalantly utter a slew of racial slurs twice in a film? Actually, this happens yet again in The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, a film that's notably worse than its predecessor but not nearly as awful as the third film in the trilogy. The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (starring Tony Curtis!) is entirely unfunny and more-often-than-not completely unwatchable.
After Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal rightfully left the franchise, it was all up to Jackie Earle Haley (who the fuck?) to literally carry these films with the help of either William Devane or Tony Curtis. In case you're wondering, Haley plays the ratty looking rebellious left (or was it right?) fielder. Get this package and see him reunite with his long-gone father (Breaking Training) or hook up with a hot geisha (Japan).
With this kid as the central character, one has to wonder why anyone would even bother financing these films. With each sequel, there are fewer and fewer players from the original film. Also, by the second film, most of the kids have completely lost their appeal and are basically just there to fill space. The fat kid doesn't even get much screen time...and there's ALWAYS ample room for fat kid humor. I mean, this is almost the 80s for crying out loud.
Still, it's not as if this set is entirely insufficient. For around twenty dollars I'll take practically any trilogy, let alone one that features at least one classic. It just would have been nice to see some sort of visible effort made for the first film, maybe a little featurette or even a measly trailer.
As with the previous editions, there are no extra features to speak of. The only minor attraction worth noting is a 5.1 mix for the first film, which was already included years back. The other films come only in mono and that option is also available for part one. At the very least, the films do look adequate in these anamorphic 1.85:1 transfers. Each film does appear to look progressively better, as they were shot year after year from 1976 to 1978.
If it weren't for the bargain price and attractive box art, I'd tell you not to bother. However, if you don't already own the original, I'd say it's worth the five extra bucks to upgrade to the whole package: watch it once and use it as an ornament on your DVD shelf. However, if Paramount actually has the nerve to release special editions when the remake hits stores, heads are gonna roll. -- Neil Karassik