A classic family sports movie, this stars the wonderful Walter Matthau as a beer-sodden baseball coach who ends up trying to whip a Little League team of eleven-year-old kids into shape. They’re pretty pathetic players (one is afraid of the ball) until he brings in a star player in the form of pitcher Amanda (O’Neal) and the team actually win a game.
It’s fun stuff, in the Rocky/Major League tradition of losers finally becoming winners, and the film has some real charm and laughs. Two missable sequels (without Matthau and O’Neal) were made, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) and a slightly raunchier 2005 remake, Bad News Bears, in which Billy Bob Thornton stars as the grizzled coach.
Is The Bad News Bears suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...