The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mr. 3000

Maybe more than any other sport, baseball loves its numbers, records and milestones. Cal Ripken's streak of games played, Hank Aaron's home run record, Cy Young's wins total, Nolan Ryan's strikeouts, Pete Rose's hits total. There are certain milestones that if you reach during your MLB career, you become a legend, an icon, and usually, a Hall of Famer. It is the driving force behind this 2004 comedy, Mr. 3000.

It's the 1995 MLB season and the Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of a pennant race. Their star player, first baseman Stan Ross (Bernie Mac), though is focused on bigger and better, or at least more personal things. He's edging ever closer to getting his 3,000th career hit, a mark that will put him in an elite club in baseball history. When Ross gets that historic hit, he shocks everyone, retiring in the middle of the season with the Brewers poised to make a big playoff run. Some nine years pass, and Ross is edging closer and closer to being voted into the Hall of Fame, just a few votes needed to put him over the top. Not so fast though, a clerical error is found in his stats. Stan doesn't have 3,000 hits. He has 2,997 career hits, putting his Hall of Fame status in serious doubt. His only alternative? Almost a decade out of baseball, Stan signs with the Brewers late in the season -- a disappointing season at that -- with hopes of chalking up three more hits, getting him back to 3,000 and back into the Hall of Fame conversation.

I love baseball. Love just about everything about it. So baseball movies? Yeah, I'm already in line with everything from Field of Dreams to Major League, The Sandlot to Bull Durham. Even the bad movies can be good in a guilty pleasure sort of way. And that's where Mr. 3000 falls. From director Charles Stone III (he also created and starred in the Budweiser 'Whassup?' commercials), '3000' just isn't a good movie. Is it mildly entertaining? Yes. But as a quality story, nope, no way. It's an easy movie to sit back and kinda turn your brain off. As a baseball fan, it has a handful of good moments but mostly drifts along. I'll give it credit where it's due. The ending provides a twist of sorts, but it is definitely hinted at so if you're paying attention early, you should see what's coming. That said, it still works for the characters and story.

You know what I like in movies? A likable character. No, not 4 or 8 or 15. I settle for one likable character, and this movie has N-O-N-E. The Stan Ross character is a crossbreed between Barry Bonds (a lovable, cuddly player if there ever was) and Charles Barkley (who's become a fan favorite and very likable after retiring courtesy of his TV gig) so we're intentionally not supposed to like him but come on. Give us something here. Bernie Mac was a very funny comedian, but talk about an awful character. All about himself to the point of being stereotypically over the top -- he actually rips his 3,000th hit ball away from a little kid -- that even when he goes through a character "arc" you're not really rooting for him. He tries to get back together with a past love (Angela Bassett), an ESPN reporter who blatantly roots for him in the press box, but even that can't humanize him too much. His more redeeming moments come when Stan realizes how much he's done wrong, but the script requires him to quickly punt on that thought when Jay Leno wants him to come onto his show. Screw practice, let's go talk to Jay Leno!!!

So unlikable main character? Check. Let's flesh things out with more unlikable characters! Chris Noth is the slimy Brewers GM who sees a chance for some $ while Michael Rispoli plays Stan's only friend, Boca, a former teammate who now works as a bartender at Ross' bar. Why are they friends? Because....yeah, that's never illustrated. His Brewers teammates include T-Rex Pennebaker (Brian White), a preening, me-first slugging outfielder, Fukuda (Ian Anthony Dale), a Japanese pitcher learning to curse in English, Fryman (Evan Jones), the likable catcher, and Minadeo (Amaury Nolasco) and Skillet (Dondre Whitfield), the bickering middle infielders who compete over everything. Paul Sorvino is silent for 89 minutes of a 104-minute movie, not speaking until almost 90 minutes in, as the Brewers' old school manager.

Not a truly bad movie, but pretty close. It is mildly entertaining, and that's all. The baseball scenes don't scream out authenticity, and Bernie Mac doesn't exactly look like a baseball player at any point. You're not really rooting for anyone, and even the ending provides a cop-out after that semi-decent twist in the final game of the season. A pretty meh movie overall.

Mr. 3000 (2004): * 1/2 /****

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