Bad News Bears | EW.com

Movies

Billy Bob Thornton, Bad News Bears

(Bad News Bears: Deana Newcomb)

The Bad News Bears was sort of the Bad Santa of its day,” declares Billy Bob Thornton, a big fan of the blue 1976 kids’ baseball comedy starring Walter Matthau as a drunken Little League coach named Buttermaker. Don’t expect the remake — starring Thornton in the Matthau role, and scripted by the Santa writers — to go as far out as Thornton’s dirty 2003 Christmas comedy. ”It’s [supposed to be] PG-13,” Thornton says of Bears. ”So I don’t just come out and do whatever the hell I want to.” But do expect it to stay faithful to the original. ”I mean, it’s the same movie,” says Linklater, who aced his previous subversive big-studio comedy, School of Rock. ”Some of it is just more wrong.” Like what? ”Well, Billy’s even more of a sexual being,” he explains. ”He’s got strippers for fans, who come out for the games. He’s just more of a drunk. In the first movie, he takes [the kids] to get hot dogs. In this one, he takes ‘em to a Hooters.”

Still, Thornton — in full coachy, pep-talk mode on the film’s Encino, Calif., set — sums up the movie’s underlying message like this: ”You think all the smart-ass honor-roll rich kids are the only people who deserve to exist in the world? They’re not! The kids who aren’t quite up to par, they should have a chance too. Maybe this group of losers does use foul language, but they got a heart just as much as everybody else does.” Thornton grins: ”I think that’s valuable.”

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