Once you know the premise of The Comrades of Summer, you can figure out everything about this new TV-movie comedy: Joe Mantegna (Bugsy, The Godfather, Part III) stars as a baseball player-manager whose career is halted when he’s injured. He reluctantly takes a job managing the Russian team for the 1992 Olym-pics. You’ve got it: It’s The Bad News Bears, with Mantegna in the Walter Matthau part and the Bears played by Russian bears — big, burly, mostly friendly fellows who like to catch fastballs with their bare hands.
The jokes are utterly predictable: Mantegna’s all-American coach suffers culture shock and hates living in a Russian apartment ”so small the mice are hunchbacks” — that old line gives you some measure of Robert Rodat’s script. Why an actor as talented as Mantegna associated himself with this lame comedy is a mystery. D