Mr. 3000

So who doesn’t like a good sports movie? Almost everyone I know is a fan of one sport or another, and many people even play a game here or there between work and couch surfing. Way back when, you know, when the NHL was around, I too enjoyed watching a good game, and that’s after I get back from a travel weekend playing four games of ice hockey in two days with my women’s league. The thing that's wrong with most sports movies is that often, when you sit down during the opening credits you already know what you’re going to watch. It'll be the underdogs lose, get determined, a few players may get laid, you'll see a montage of “serious” training, they play the “big” game, and…dun, dun, done. They win and you walk away eight dollars poorer. But that’s when a sports flick is done wrong, Mr. 3000 is when a sports movie is done right. Mr. 3000 is one of those movies you get sucked into. It’s a comedy, but you won’t find overdone clichés, slapstick, one-liners, or, is it possible to make a comedy without anyone passing gas? Well, yes, it is possible when you have a cast like director Charles Stone found; Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Chris Noth (“Sex And The City” fans can drool now), and Paul Sorvino; people experienced enough to replace talentless belches and farts with real, topnotch acting. Bernie Mac plays Stan Ross (aka: Mr. 3000), an arrogant, confident, foulmouthed, and terribly selfish baseball player, who, after making 3000 hits and retiring, finds out nine years later three of his hits don’t count and he won’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Needless to say, unchanged after all this time, Ross comes back to baseball to get his three hits. The fans and players should be grateful.

Bernie Mac has an infectious, high energy presence about him that is unmistakable, his style is similar to the one used on his TV series, but this character is distinctly different and only in the game for himself. Right from the opening scene of Ross in a Reebok commercial, Mac’s ability to display a self-centered yet deep ball player is flawless and the sexy chemistry between him and Bassett’s strong female character, Mo, is intense. The history between their characters, which extends to before the beginning of the movie’s timeline, is a relief and is more effective than if the viewer was supposed to believe the strength of their relationship occurred over coffee or one night together. The pace between action scenes and the stillness of personal scenes is seamless, and the use of real sports analysis and discussion TV shows play a strong role in making the story even more real. Not to mention the boatloads of product placement, but I guess when you are making a movie about a sport, you take advantage of the scoreboard and slap every logo you can on it.

Mr. 3000 is a great look at the battle between selfishness and being a team player and what it means to do things for others. Now, chances are you will throw this take-home-message in the trash about thirty minutes after you’ve stopped watching the movie, but it makes it a worthwhile film nonetheless. Mac’s sense of comedic timing is impeccable and several of the funnier comments are made on the side or under someone’s breath. This would be a great family video if it weren’t for all the bad language, but I guarantee it wouldn’t be as funny without it. Mac is careful to portray his hard and selfish character cussing up a storm without overdoing it and turning off his viewers.

I could use all the clichés in the book right now and say Mr. 3000 hit it out of the park, it was a home run, it won the World Series of sports films, it’s the MVP, but I’ll hold off. Let’s just say Mr. 3000 is a good movie that just happens to be about a sport called baseball. You don’t have to be a baseball fan (which I’m not_ or a sports fan for that matter, to enjoy sitting down to this motion picture. He’s Stan Ross, baby, and that’s all you need to know. Now, you won’t understand this at first, but I’m going to do this because I like you. I’m going to divide the extras into two groups. I know what you’re thinking; they aren’t split up on the back of the box, and I know you’re wondering why I would do that. Well, let me tell you. I’m going to separate into one pile the extras that are interesting and good to watch, in the other pile will be the ones that are, you know, just extra and not worth your time.

The “Making of Mr. 3000”, the director’s commentary, and “Spring Training: The Extra’s Journey” are great. You see a ton of footage and celebrity guests. You find out the sausage is played by the director (that’s just awesome all on its own). You also learn a good bit about what Bernie Mac, the other team characters, and the baseball extras went through to train for the film so they look like real ball players. The cameras are also there during tryouts for the baseball extras as they narrow down who they want for the film to play on opposing teams.

The director’s commentary is nonstop chatter and Stone is obviously an intelligent, yet down to earth person who is up front about the commentary’s purpose and breaks down the characters as well as the construction of the filming process and script. He also delves into the financial role of sports today and the role media plays in today’s sports world, and the task of showing those aspects in the film.

The second group, however, really adds nothing to the film and brings zip to the table for discussion. They are the deleted scenes, the extended scenes, “Everybody Loves Stan”, and the outtakes. None of them are exceptionally funny or insightful, and I’m betting they were trying to fill the disc with excess footage so they could label the whole thing “Grand Slam DVD Extras” but really, these are just a bunt, not a grand slam. Do yourself a favor and skip those. Otherwise, grab your peanuts and crackerjacks, and enjoy the show.