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Running Time: PG
Running Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Tony Curtis
Written by: Bill Lancaster
Directed by: John Berry
Retail Price: $24.95
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Mono 2.0, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (12 Scenes)
Released: February 12th, 2002
Okay... is the third time the charm? That can always be argued. But for a franchise called "The Bad News Bears" I have to say it does not apply to it. In the third and final installment of the amazing Oscar® winning series (okay, you know I'm lying), released a year after the second film (that makes it one "Bad News Bears" films per year from 1976-1978), "The Bad News Bears go to Japan" is actually a pretty decent film and sequel. While the first still reigns supreme, I found it a lot more enjoyable and a bit more on par with the first flick (maybe because Bill Lancaster, the writer on the first, came back to write the third installment).
This time around, the Bears go to... Japan (giant surprise there). Who gets them there? Why it's Marvin Lazar (Tony Curtis himself), a con man/promoter out to make money off the California team. Can you guess what happens? The Bears must face the best Japanese little league team... and of course, mania, chaos and hilarity ensues.
It's not quite like the original, but thankfully, it's not like the second film either. I think when it comes down to it, "The Bad News Bears go to Japan" is somewhat entertaining and gets the job done. I think it's all because of Bill Lancaster. While I wouldn't say it captures the original film exactly, but I think it's a bit closer than what "Breaking Training" did. It's not aimed at families exactly, but it still doesn't play on all the levels that the original film had (those were rather seamless). I think there's a decent mix of humor geared more toward adults, but stuff for the kids too. There are some funny scenes in the film, but not too much. Also, the second film's morals and themes irritated me as far as how they were played out and their focus... it just went a bit overboard for me and felt too corny, let alone show the aim the film had. Thankfully, that doesn't really occur here.
"The Bad News Bears go to Japan" also jumps around a lot and is uneven... and I have to say, for a movie about baseball, there's not so much in it. It's focus is too much on Japan. They try to make it a character, which isn't a bad thing. But at some point enough has to be enough. There's overkill with Japan, their lifestyles, the people and everything there. Remember, the film is supposed to be about misadventures in baseball.
Another bad point is that very few kids from the original are back... disappointing of course. And their chemistry isn't there. But I must admit, love him or hate him, Tony Curtis does justice and is actually pretty funny in his role given the material. He seems to be the perfect choice for Marvin, and he runs with the role.
So, the last in the franchise, "The Bad News Bears go to Japan" is hit and miss. The first is still the best. But if you're a fan of the concept and at least one of the other movies, you've probably already have seen this one. If not, it's a decent film to watch. Nothing spectacular, but it has its moments.
Just like all the other "Bad News Bears" films, "The Bad News Bears Go To Japan" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Out of all three, this transfer is the worst. It looks as if it was given no care at all. There is a lot of blur and image problems that shouldn't be problems, such as "double vision" (at times you see a highlighted shifted Tony Randall next to the real one). This transfer is incredibly grainy too, and the fact that all of it looks rather murky and faded brings nothing to it. There's some shimmering and noise but detail is decent. What also doesn't help are the blemishes, scratches and pieces of dirty. Considering that the first two titles exceeded my expectations as far as picture quality, perhaps those doing this transfer just gave up and didn't make it as good as it could have been.
An English mono track is included... fidelity is somewhat high here, and there is no hiss, distortion or other little audio problems like cackles. You can hear the music, the dialogue is pitched clearly and the sound effects are fine. It has more of an atmosphere than the other two "Bears" films in Japan, and you can sorta hear it in this simple track. There's not much here or much to talk about, except that this track really works for what it is. English closed captions and English subtitles are also included.
Was I the only one hoping that Tony Randall would be coaxed into a commentary?
Not as bad as the second inning of the "Bears" series, but "The Bad News Bears Go To Japan" doesn't exactly live up to the original. Still, it can be enjoyable. The transfer is pretty terrible, but the mono track is decent. Like the other two titles, this one also has no extras. But if you need it, it's here, all for a retail price of a mere $24.99...