*** (out of 5)
September 17, 2004
Bernie Mac as STAN ROSS
Angela Bassett as MO
Michael Rispoli as BOCA
Brian J. White as T-REX
Ian Anthony Dale as FUKADA
Paul Sorvino as GUS PANAS
Chris Noth as SCHIEMBRI
Directed by: Charles Stone III
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Bernie Mac is a funny guy. I know that doesn’t come as a surprise to many people. Even if you won’t call yourself a Bernie Mac fan, you can’t deny that the man can be funny. Heck, in some movies (like last summer’s stinker “Charlie’s Angel 2”) he can be the best thing in there. Isn’t it about time for him to get a full-blown starring role for himself?
Now he has his chance with “Mr. 3000.” Is it the greatest film that he could do? Not at all. But it’s a fair start. But he doesn’t need to launch a career. He just needs a film that justifies him as an actor.
What really works about “Mr. 3000” is that Mac knows his role. He knows that he’s not going to be able to play a role that Tom Cruise is up for. Like Mike Myers, Mac understands that his lead roles are going to have to play to his own strengths – and that strength is being an arrogantly funny man.
“Mr. 3000” follows the career of Stan Ross (Bernie Mac), a baseball hero that fans love in spite of his attitude. Known for dumping on the press and ignoring his fans, Ross is desperate to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is positive that earning the magical number of 3000 base hits will get him in. So, when he makes his 3000th hit, he quits professional baseball.
Unfortunately, the sports press isn’t so kind. Nine years later, they still haven’t inducted him into the Hall of Fame. With one final push, Ross’s number is retired, a stunt that is going to push him over the edge. However, in doing so, it also caused the baseball authorities to recount his record – and due to a stats error, it turns out he’s 3 hits short. Now, Ross has to return to baseball and try to get those three last hits – which turns out to be harder than he ever thought they would be.
There are some nice allusions to real sports incidents. While I’m not a sports fan at all (much to my enjoyment of my wife), I recognize some interesting parallels to sports figures that have had a less-than-friendly relationship with the press or the people. It seems ironic that this film is opening only a week after Texas Ranger Frank Francisco tossed a chair into a woman’s face. (God, I wish I could get a pro baseball player to throw a chair at me. The law suit settlement would be like winning the lottery!)
Mac is the one that makes this thing work. He takes some risks here, making himself look like a total buffoon and not being afraid to address his age. Of course, his co-star is Angela Bassett, who’s actually two months older than him, but she’s still smokin’. Taken against a slate of young and pretty actresses, Bassett is weathering the storm incredibly well.
It takes a lot for a film to admit that it’s corny. And to the credit of “Mr. 3000,” it does. Trust me. It’s actually in the script. But taking that into account, “Mr. 3000” ain’t bad. It’s your basic sports hero movie with a slightly different log line. But it has all the standard moments – the comeback to the team, the lessons learned of past arrogance, the way things all hinge on the last game of the season.
But hey, that didn’t stop me from liking other baseball films like “Major League” and “The Natural.” Audiences generally like these movies. Like romantic comedies, sports movies follow a basic formula. It’s not a good idea to deviate from it much, and there’s no need to worry about “Mr. 3000” here.