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Bad News Bears (2005)

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Billy Bob Thornton, Bad News Bears | THORNTON
Image credit: Bad News Bears: Deana Newcomb
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Details Release Date: Jul 22, 2005; Rated: PG-13; Length: 111 Minutes; Genre: Comedy; With: Marcia Gay Harden, Greg Kinnear and Billy Bob Thornton; Distributor: Paramount Pictures

''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.''

Originally posted Apr 18, 2005