Bernie Mac doesn’t hit this one out of the park, but he manages a solid double in his first starring role, as a retired baseball player who has to get back into shape and suit up for three more hits.
Mac plays Stan Ross, known as “Mr. 3000.” As soon as he got the 3000th hit that he thought would ensure him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he announced his retirement from the Milwaukee Brewers. He got his and that was all he cared about. He opened up a strip mall with a pet store (3000 Paws), a cell phone store (3000 beeps), a Chinese restaurant (3000 Woks), a hair salon (3000 cuts) and a bar with a wall of 3000 baseballs.
But then the hotshot statisticians in Cooperstown found out that one of Stan’s games was counted twice. He’s not Mr. 3000. He’s Mr. 2997. So, he has a month to get back in shape and suit up, to try to get those last three hits in the final month of the season. And who should show up to report on the story for ESPN but Stan’s on-and-off love, Mo (Angela Bassett). Stan has to learn that he needs more than a swing and more than a hit to win.
There are no surprises here, but director Charles Stone III provides a little of the flair he showed us with the marvelous Drumline. There are some disappointing musical choices (really, how many times has “Let’s Get it On” been used for romantic interludes) but also some charmingly surprising ones (the portion of “The Nutcracker Suite” best remembered as the music for the mushroom dance in Fantasia as the ball players warm up). Bernie Mac is wonderfully assured. We knew he was funny, but he is unexpectedly tender here as well. Angela Bassett allows herself to be a little more vulnerable than we have seen before, making their romance something we really root for.
Parents should know that the movie has strong language for a PG-13 with a wider range of bad words than normally occur in movies of this kind. There are a series of jokes about the inability of a Japanese ballplayer to curse correctly. The movie has non-explicit sexual situations and explicit sexual references. Characters discuss what made sex with each other the best either of them had ever had and make Viagra jokes. There is a reference to an alcohol abuse problem and there are many scenes in a bar. A strength of the movie is the portrayal of intelligent and capable African-American and female characters.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Stan did not care about his team and what made him realize how his behavior had affected other people. How would he have reacted if someone had spoken to him the way he spoke to T. Rex? How did Mo’s not having faith in Stan make him feel? What makes people feel like a team? This is a good movie to prompt a discussion of what it means to “burn our bridges,” and how decisions we make (and feelings we hurt) can have long-term consequences we may not anticipate.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy some of the many classic baseball films including Pride of the Yankees, It Happens Every Spring, Damn Yankees, and (for mature audiences) Bang the Drum Slowly and Bull Durham. They will also enjoy the fantasy comedy Angels in the Outfield and the 1994 remake with Danny Glover.