out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
|*Also starring: ||Brian J. White, Tom Arnold, Earl Billings, Greg Bond, Scott Martin Brooks, Ian Anthony Dale, Jaqueline Fleming, Christopher Noth, Amaury Nolasco, Tony Kornheiser||
Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
"Mr. 3000," underwhelmingly directed by Charles Stone III (2002's
"Drumline"), is being released the same weekend as another sports
film, the tennis-themed "Wimbledon." That picture, also lightly comedic
and featuring a strong romantic side, resorted to formulaic storytelling
so often that it failed to find an identity of its own. The baseball-centered
"Mr. 3000," showcasing the passable talents of Bernie Mac (2003's
"Bad Santa"), doesn't strike quite as many obvious cliches, but it
has even less substance than "Wimbledon." In fact, when "Mr. 3000"
finishes up its quick-seeming, inconsequential 104-minute run, it
would be understandable if its memory has already begun to slip from the viewer's mind.
Nine years ago, bad-tempered Milwaukee Brewers player Stan Ross (Bernie
Mac) abruptly retired from the sport immediately after completing
his 3000th hit. Now seeking to be added to the Hall of Fame if anyone
will agree to it—he was known to make more enemies than friends when
he was still considered a star player—Stan is positively rattled to
find that a counting error has dropped his hits down to 2997. Preferring
increased fame and viewership over actual success, Brewers owner Schiembri
(Chris Noth) welcomes out-of-shape 47-year-old Stan back to the team.
What seems like an easy proposition soon becomes anything but as Stan
learns how rusty he has gotten at his swing. And, as Stan begins to
romance his ex, feisty ESPN reporter Mo (Angela Bassett), he experiences
an epiphany about how for granted he once took his life and those around him.
Akin to a baseball game turned into a feature film, "Mr. 3000" isn't
so much bad as it is terminally empty. The plot is banal, there are
no true villains to get in Stan's way and so very little conflict
is formed, and the trajectory of the story follows a strictly predictable
pattern, each baseball sequences followed close behind by a romantic
scene. The film has also been deceptively marketed as a rowdy comedy
when, in fact, it takes itself mostly serious and actual laugh-generating
moments are close to nonexistent. By the time the movie ends, your
hands close on thin air; there is nothing of weight nor anything memorable
enough to take away from the superfluous experience of viewing it.
Watch as Stan goes to the plate and strikes out. Watch as he befriends
his initially difficult, younger teammates. Watch as he sweet-talks
gal pal Mo. Watch as his game improves. Watch as he and Mo have a
disagreement. Watch as the big game arrives. Watch as its plot threads
work themselves out. The end. Save for the pivotal climactic moment
in which the answer to whether Stan will or will not reach his 3000th
hit is revealed, "Mr. 3000" is tediously by-the-books. In that one
moment, though, director Charles Stone III offers a fresh, unexpected
twist on the norm. It is too mature to deserve the lackluster rest of the picture.
Bernie Mac is faced with the formidable challenge of playing the hero
and the anti-hero, since his Stan Ross is stuck-up and self-involved
for most of the narrative, and he pulls it off. His character isn't
developed enough to warrant much sympathy, and Mac gets precious little
of interest to say and do, but he does handle some of the quieter
moments of redemptive realization with believability. As the doubting
Mo, Angela Bassett (2001's "The Score") gives it a go at invigorating
her shopworn romance with Stan, but she is too accomplished of an
actress to be saddled with playing the stock love interest. The rest
of the characters are one-dimensional even by the standards of a conventional
baseball flick, none of them given much of an arc and the majority
of them disappearing for inordinately long stretches.
Without an assured funny streak or a tightly developed catharsis for
Stan Ross to go through, "Mr. 3000" is useless. Director Charles Stone
III and his three screenwriters (Eric Champnella, Keith Mitchell,
and Howard Gould) seem to be at a loss to what kind of film they want
to make—light comedy, ruminative drama, or heartfelt romance—and the
spare parts of each genre mesh jarringly together. What is left ,
then, is trivial fare just a little confusing as to what demographic
it is targeting; kids will be bored, while adults will have seen it
all done before, and better. There is nothing overtly terrible about
"Mr. 3000," but there is also a collective lack of rooting involvement
that cannot be denied. Mercifully, its dullness is alleviated by ending
quickly and not wearing out its welcome to an unbearable degree. One
should always look on the bright side, but some may not be so forgiving
after having wasted their time.
Copyright © 2004 Dustin Putman
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