Directed by Charles Stone III. Starring Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Michael Rispoli, Brian J. White, Paul Sorvino, Chris Noth, Evan Jones. (2004, PG-13, 104 min.)
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Sept. 17, 2004
After his 3,000th base hit, cocksure ball player Stan Ross (Mac) quit on the spot, trading Miller Field for stewardship of a dreary strip mall in suburban Milwaukee. ("Get your hair dyed, fried, and laid to the side at 3000 Cuts!") Nine years later and just as much a magnificent bastard, Stan expects admission to the Hall of Fame when his number is retired, but a routine accounting proves he’s actually three hits shy of his cherished 3,000-hit mark. Can Stan get back in the game – at age 47? Can he win back his ex, ESPN reporter Bassett? And will he learn the true meaning of team play? C’mon. Take a wild guess. Like Stone’s previous outing, 2002’s Drumline – which set the sports-film format in the world of collegiate marching bands – this is your standard genre fare: Smart-ass player gets schooled, finds love, and is redeemed in time for the final big game. But just as Drumline surprised audiences with its amiability and no-nonsense moral center, Mr. 3000 throws the occasional curve ball. You’ll have to wade through endless montages (of SportsCenter, of man’s-man Mac doing Pilates) and lowbrow gags (a Japanese teammate, played by Minnesota native Ian Anthony Dale, struggles with American idiom). Bassett is way too much of an actor for her "girlfriend" role; of all the movie’s lazy, shorthanded characterizations – and there are many – hers is the most insulting. But there are some nice enough moments of satire, as when Mac volunteers for a children’s literacy project called Reading Iz Dope. Early in the film, as Mac steps out onto the field, admiring himself in the Jumbotron and strutting around to a disco remix of "Appalachian Spring," the movie very nearly captures the hysterical excesses of kitsch and ego that combine to create the phenomenon of major-league sports and its fandom. And there is in fact a third-act surprise – which, of course, I cannot reveal — but it adds a hard-knock dimension reminiscent of Drumline’s refusal to let its hero off the hook too lightly. So call it a tie.