Bad News Bears appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only a few persistent flaws made this transfer less than stellar.
Print defects were the culprit. Throughout the film, I saw occasional specks and bits of grit. These never became overwhelming, but they cropped up periodically and made the image dirtier than I’d expect for a brand-new film.
Otherwise the movie looked great. At all times, I thought sharpness was crisp and well-defined. No signs of softness popped up during the film. I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent.
Colors went with a natural palette. The movie depicted these hues well, as they looked nicely bright and dynamic. Blacks were dense and firm, while low-light shots appeared smooth and appropriately rendered. Lose the print defects and this transfer jumps to “A” level.
While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bad News Bears suffered from no obvious flaws, it only earned a “B-“ due to its lack of ambition. This was a subdued mix that rarely used the spectrum to any substantial degree. The only sequence that really opened up matters came during the Bloodfarts’ concert. At that time, the surrounds kicked in and we got a good feeling of environment.
Otherwise, the back speakers were used for basic ambience and no more. Given the movie’s comedic nature, that wasn’t a huge surprise, but I expected more from the many baseball scenes. Those never did much to expand their horizons, and this remained a restricted soundfield.
At least no issues with audio quality manifested themselves. Speech was concise and distinctive, and I discerned no problems with those elements. Music played the biggest role in the film and sounded good. Those elements appeared lively and dynamic. Effects came across as accurate and crisp, though they did little to challenge my system. Overall, the mix earned a good but unexceptional “B-“.
Heading to the extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Richard Linklater and writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. They discuss adaptation issues, the script and changes found in the final flick, casting and working with the actors, dealing with all the kids, and a few technical issues.
For the most part, the track works well. The men interact in a nice manner as they go through the various topics. We get a good feel for the production along with some humor. Heck, they even refer to the fact the movie “tanked” at the box office! The guys seem a little too self-impressed at times and a smattering of dead air occurs, but this is still a useful and enjoyable piece.
A mix of featurettes appear. At Bat With the Bears runs 11 minutes and 32 seconds. It presents notes from Linklater, actors Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear and Marcia Gay Harden, producer J. Geyer Kosinski, executive producer Marcus Viscidi, They discuss casting the main adult actors and shooting the baseball sequences. We learn about the characters, the actors’ takes on their roles, and making the baseball look real. All of this takes on a somewhat superficial gloss, unfortunately. A reasonable amount of info appears but the program doesn’t feel particularly substantial.
In Writing the Bad News Bears, we find a nine-minute and 39-second look at that side of things. This features remarks from Ficarra and Requa as well as Thornton and Linklater. They discuss how the writers came onto the project and get into many issues related to updating the original. They also chat about research and baseball authenticity in this tight and informative piece.
Scouting for the Big Leagues addresses casting the kids. It fills 10 minutes and 18 seconds with notes from Linklater, casting director Joseph Middleton, and actors Sammi Kane Kraft and Jeffrey Davies. We hear why the various kids got their roles and also see some of their audition tapes. The latter offer the best part of the program, as the rest tends toward fluffy praise for the kids.
For a look at shooting the games, we go to Spring Training. The four-minute and 39-second piece includes notes from Linklater, Kraft, Davies, technical advisors Greg Smith and Steve Savage, and actors KC Harris, Brandon Craggs, and Ridge Canipe. The show covers training the kids to play and issues related to filming the ballgames. Despite its brevity, this is a pretty good little clip.
Six Deleted Scenes run a total of eight minutes and 53 seconds. “Pay Off” was a good one to cut; it makes Toby’s mom look too nasty. “Coach & Pitcher Talk” also needed to get the boot since it softens Buttermaker too early. “Teasing the Pitcher” is really just a blooper reel, as it presents a few aborted takes. “Playing Football” shows silent footage of the team having fun and isn’t very interesting.
“Playing Catch – Take 1” shows Buttermaker and Hooper as they toss the ball and chat. It’s amusing but would’ve been inappropriate in the final film. “Don’t Trust Whitey” is the funniest of the lot. I don’t know how well it would have fit in the end product, but lean toward thinking it should have stayed; it’s more entertaining than most of what they kept.
We can view these with or without commentary from Linklater, Ficarra and Requa. As usual, they cover issues related to the shots and let us know why they were cut. Amusingly, they run out of things to say during “Catch” but still try to fill the time.
Next we get three Outtakes clips. Via “Play All”, these go for 89 seconds. One offers a gag from Thornton, while the others are goofs. None seem very interesting. These also can be examined with or without commentary from the usual trio. They let us know who Cat Osterman – the player mentioned in the Thornton clip – is but don’t have anything interesting to say for the other two.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we discover some Video Baseball Cards. These present notes about actors Thornton, Craggs, Kraft, Canipe, Davies, Harris, Tyler Patrick Jones, Troy Gentile, Carlos Estrada, Aman Johal, Emmanuel Estrada, Jeffrey Tadmori, and Timmy Deters. A twist on the usual cast biographies, these let the actors introduce themselves and then show some basic text about them. It’s an insubstantial but cute extra.
The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Barnyard, Elizabethtown, The Honeymooners film, Beavis and Butthead: The Mike Judge Collection and the new Airplane “Don’t Call Me Shirley” DVD.
Some remakes improve upon the original film, while others don’t add much. 2005’s Bad News Bears falls into the latter category. The movie doesn’t bring much fresh to the tale and feels like a wasted effort. The DVD offers pretty good picture and audio along with a mixture of decent extras. Stick with the original Bears.