starring Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden
screenplay by Bill Lancaster and Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
directed by Richard Linklater
by Walter Chaw Richard Linklater essentially does for Michael Ritchie's The Bad News Bears what Gus Van Sant did for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. That is, not much. It's the same song sung in the same tune, though the film's missteps are unique to Linklater and company's often-puzzling desire to soften the original by introducing a love-interest for our drunken anti-hero and re-ordering the big game so that his redemption comes after an ugly on-field incident instead of just before when it still means something. This is not to say that the original film is much better than a button-pushing vehicle for the Walter Matthau persona, but to suggest that, for what it was, at least it was better than another button-pushing vehicle for the Billy Bob Thornton persona. And Richard Linklater, who seems content now to alternate nice little Rohmer-inspired talk-pieces with higher-profile formula flicks starring unknown kid-actors and manic curmudgeons. The only way to assess his career is by taking a closer look at his independent-minded projects (such as the upcoming Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly) and deciding whether or not better-earning stuff like Bad News Bears was worth it.