Shopgirl.

Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear and Marci Gay Harden. Directed by Richard Linklater.
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While there is always a place for a re-make (always hoping that the remake will do something different or special with the original material), Bad News Bears is not an immediately obvious candidate for re-doing. After all, there have been so many variations on the theme over the last thirty years (from Mighty Ducks to Kicking and Screaming), that it runs the danger these years of being too well-worn.

Anyway, here it is again (after the original, with Walter Matthau had two sequels of its own). The plot is still the same. The range of awkward kids is the same (well, they come from a greater racial mix this time). The obnoxious coach is the same (Greg Kinnear). There are the practices, the rivalries, the tensions within the group, the increasing victories and the final match - which actually supports the theme that playing the game is more important than winning. As with Walter Matthau in the past, one reason for seeing the film is Billy Bob Thornton as the alcoholic coach. This is a far less flamboyant performance as an obnoxious and crass-mouthed interacter with kids than Thornton's Bad Santa. His timing is good. His remarks sardonic. But, at heart, this is a nice and sentimental story of making good.

Director Richard Linklater usually makes talkative relationship films (Before Sunrise, Tape, Before Sunset) but is taking time off to relax with a studio production - he must love baseball too.


Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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