Friday July 31, 1998
And the stars are the least of the film's problems!
"BASEketball" is by far the most inane and badly written of the comedies made by any of the creators of the classic 1980 sendup "Airplane!" There are about as many jokes attempted here, but most of them travel like Stealth bombers, flying so low they can't even be detected by radar. If this movie's a hit, the dumbing-down of America is complete.
What's wasted here, besides time, money and the effort of innocent below-the-line wage earners, is the ripely plump satirical target of contemporary professional sports. Basketball, baseball, football, hockey, take your pick, they're all played by disloyal,largely thug morons who are overpaid by profiteering, antitrust-avoiding, jock-wannabe owners who would sell their souls, if they had 'em.
The film opens with a clever recap of the self-destruction of commercial American sports, bringing us to the doorstep of the new millennium, when a jaded country pines for a rebirth of cornfed innocence, a time when games were played by men who felt lucky to be playing like boys and when a Yankee or a Dodger was forever.
Enter Coop (Parker) and Remer (Stone), the almost literal live-action incarnations of Beavis and Butt-head (can cartoon characters sue?). Ten years out of high school, they're still knocking back brews and mumbling "Dude," fantasizing about women who'd rather undergo marrow transplants than have sex with them, and sharing a childhood dream--begun the day Coop caught Reggie Jackson's third home run during the 1977 World Series--that they'll someday be sports stars.
Their opportunity comes when they're challenged to a game of two-on-two half-court basketball at a party they've crashed. Rather than be shown up, Coop improvises a game that combines the rules of baseball and basketball with a defensive move called the "psych-out." The psych-out rule allows defensive players to do essentially anything they want to distract opponents from making shots.
Anyway, they win, and soon, the game is skyrocketing from a neighborhood craze to the new national pastime, with Coop, Remer and their runt pal, Squeak (Dian Bahar), the stars of the awesome Milwaukee Beers (to provide a micro-hint of the film's sophomoric flavor). The Beers have their own version of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, taken from the Merry Widow pages of the Victoria's Secret catalog, they have a stadium filled with rabid fans, and they are the new heroes of America's youth.
The plot itself is similar to "Major League." When the Milwaukee Beers owner (Ernest Borgnine) dies and leaves the team to Coop, with the proviso that the team win the national championship or else, his idiot widow (Jenny McCarthy) takes up with a conniving rivalowner (Robert Vaughn) in an attempt to ruin the Beers' chances.
Along the way, Coop will fall in love with a goody-two-shoes volunteer ("Baywatch's" Yasmine Bleeth, and the casting is meant to be a joke) at a Make a Wish-type foundation, and Remer will be seduced by the trappings of stardom, all leading to the big game and a buzzer shot.
The material is worse than banal. It's redundant.
"You smell like Christian Slater," one character comments to a drunk in one scene.
"You smell like Robert Downey Jr.," another character tells another drunk in another scene seconds later.
At least, Stone and Parker don't have reputations to uphold. No one expects much more than anatomical humor from these guys. The big losers of "BASEketball" are the sportscasters lending their names, presence and dignity to the proceedings. Namely, Bob Costas and Al Michaels, who appear as recurring characters--themselves--trying to breathe life into the BASEketball games, while vulgarly mocking their own images.
At one point, Michaels expresses his excitement at the outcome of a game.
"You're excited?" Costas yells. "Feel these nipples!"
If you're old enough to see this movie without a parent or guardian and all that sounds encouraging, this review has failed, and failed badly.
BASEketball, 1998. R for strong language and crude sex-related humor. A David Zucker Game, released by Universal Pictures. Director Zucker. Producers David Zucker, Robert LoCash, Gil Netter. Screenplay Zucker, LoCash, Lewis Friedman, Jeff Wright. Cinematography Steve Mason. Production design Steven Jordan. Editing Jeffrey Reiner. Costumes Catherine Adair. Music James Ira Newborn. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. Trey Parker as Coop. Matt Stone as Remer. Dian Bahar as Squeak. Yasmine Bleeth as Jena.