Booger jokes. Potty jokes. Hit on the head jokes. Hit on the crotch jokes. And underdog characters so annoying that they have you rooting for the bullies. These guys should have stayed on the bench.
On behalf of everyone who has ever been assaulted or insulted by a bully, three men take on bunch of kids in a round robin creatively titled “Little Baseballers vs. 3 Older Guys.” The prize — a fancy new baseball field, offered by another former picked-on nerd-turned zillionaire.
The three guys are Richie (David Spade), a video store clerk with a Prince Valiant hairdo who has never had a date and lives with his agoraphobic brother, Clark (Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder), who delivers newspapers on his bike, lives with his mother, and has never talked to a girl, and Gus (Rob Schneider), who has a real job (landscaping) and lives with his wife, who keeps reminding him of her ovulation schedule because she wants to get pregnant. They see a kid named Nelson and his friends getting thrown off the field by bullies, they decide to stay and hit a few balls. The other two are hopelessly incompetent, but Gus can hit and pitch.
Nelson’s dad (Jon Lovitz) a fabulously wealthy man who hates to see his son picked on the way he was, thinks that if the men take on the bullies on the Little League teams (coached by their bully fathers), it will provide encouragement for all the nerds and oddballs.
It’s a lovely thought. But it is undermined by slack, lazy, peurile humor, and by the fundamental hypocrisy at its core. While Gus is kind and the “nerdy” kids are far more competent and mature than the adults, the movie relies a great deal on the same kind of crude insults it purports to be against, making fun of gay men (though videos with lesbian sex scenes are highly esteemed) and disabled people and suggesting that the ability to insult other people is an indicator of intelligence and worthiness.
It’s a relief to see Rob Schneider staying away from his usual gross-out roles, but he doesn’t find a way to make Gus very interesting or sincere. The script gives Heder no opportunity to create a distinctive and disarming character, as he did in Napoleon Dynamite, and gives Spade no opportunity to show his only talent, snarkiness. The best performances in the movie come from inanimate objects: a robot and a Darth Vader security system (voice of James Earl Jones) and KITT, and the car from the television show, “Knight Rider.” If there’s a Most Valuable Player in this league, it’s the talking machines.
Parents should know that this is an exceptionally vulgar movie with very strong material for a PG-13. Characters use very strong language, including the b- and s-words as well as many ugly insults like “ho,” “retard,” and “spaz” and some crude words for body parts. There are several homophobic comments and jokes and a reference to lesbian sex scenes in movies. Characters are made insulted for not having had sex and there are other sexual references including a joke about a fun doll. Characters smoke and drink, one to excess, and there is a joke about Alcoholics Anonymous. There is comic violence. While the movie purports to be about treating everyone fairly and there are some diverse characters, it engages in a lot of stereotyping and ugly humor. There are also annoyingly intrusive product placements for a fast food restaurant, a video game set-up, and an internet provider.
Families who see this movie should talk about bullies and the best way to deal with them — and to prevent becoming one. They can also talk about the power of apologies.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original Bad News Bears and Revenge of the Nerds (some mature material). They might also enjoy seeing KITT in Knight Rider.