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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Charles Stone III
Cast:
Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Michael Rispoli, Brian J. White, Ian Anthony Dale, Evan Jones, Amaury Nolasco, Dondre Whitfield, Paul Sorvino
Writing Credits:
Eric Champnella, Keith Mitchell, Howard Gould

Tagline:
He's putting the "I" back in team.

Synopsis:
Famous for a highly publicized mid-game retirement immediately following his 3,000th hit, self-centered baseball superstar Bernie Mac has spent the years capitalizing on his reputation. But when three of his hits are deemed invalid, Mac must return to the game - at the age of 47 - in order to restore his record and make it into the Hall of Fame. This hilarious sports comedy also stars Angela Bassett, Michael Rispoli, and Paul Sorvino.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$8.679 million on 2736 screens.
Domestic Gross
$21.800 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 2/1/2005

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Charles Stone III
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Full Uncut Scenes from the Film
• “The Making of Mr. 3000
• Outtakes
• “Spring Training: The Extra’s Journey”
• “Everybody Loves Stan”
• Sneak Peeks


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Mr. 3000 (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 1, 2005)

It seems like it’s been a while since we last got a good baseball movie, and 2004’s Mr. 3000 sounded as though it might offer a fun experience connected to the game. Too bad the reality was so different. In this flick, we meet ballplayer Stan Ross (Bernie Mac), a selfish big leaguer who leaves his team on the day he knocks out his 3000th hit even though the Brewers are in the middle of a playoff race. This achievement virtually ensures enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, so Ross figures he’s guaranteed his immortality.

Or maybe not. The movie jumps ahead nine years but finds Ross still outside of the Hall. He alienated lots of sports writers over the years, and since they vote, they’ve kept him away from the Hall. This galls the self-obsessed Stan, who steps up pressure to get into the Hall.

This backfires when the Major League authorities add up his stats and find out that an error occurred: Stan really only knocked out 2997 hits. Desperate for attention and adulation, Ross plots a return to the majors so he can clobber three more hits and ensure his spot in the Hall. A Milwaukee Brewers executive (Chris Noth) digs this idea since it’ll help garner the crummy team some much-needed ticket sales, so they take back the former star.

Inevitably, Stan finds the path to be a difficult one. He assumes he’ll quickly achieve his goal, but he runs into problems. He also doesn’t like the poisonous atmosphere in the Brewers’ clubhouse, as the team’s biggest hitter - all-star “T-Rex” Pennebaker (Brian White) - acts just as selfishly as Stan once did. Ross tries to inspire his team, and he also renews an old romance with sports reporter Maureen Simmons (Angela Bassett).

While I don’t demand absolute reality from sports movies - or any genre, really - some form of logic needs to be in place. A lack of this mars the very concept of Mr. 3000. If we look at the 25 baseball players who have made the 3000 hits plateau, almost every single one of them was inducted to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. (This doesn’t include those who retired well before the Hall existed; it took the voters a few years to catch up with baseball’s history prior to the Hall’s creation in 1936.)

The only exceptions I found were Pete Rose and Paul Waner. Most folks know it’s Rose’s extracurricular activities that have kept him ineligible for the Hall; without those problems, he’d definitely have been a first-ballot inductee. Waner had to wait until his second chance to earn his spot. The three players who’ve not been out of the game long enough to earn induction - Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson - unquestionably are first-ballot locks.

Mr. 3000 tries to explain that Stan hasn’t made it into the Hall after multiple attempts because the sports writers hate him. On the surface, this makes sense; the writers vote for the nominees, so if they don’t like you, they won’t pick you. However, it ignores the simple fact that unless you’re banned from baseball, 3000 hits equals automatic induction. No matter how many people hated Ross, he’d have been in the Hall no later than his second ballot.

Call me petty or nit-picky, but that stretch of reality really bugged me. Stan returns to baseball to get into the Hall, but he already should have been there. It would have made more sense if he came back to the Brewers simply out of pride or even for financial reasons. After all, he runs a series of business ventures that all prominently feature the number 3000; those would make no sense if he’s not an actual member of the 3000 hit club.

Many other aspects of Mr. 3000 violate common sense, such as the fact that the Brewers still have the same manager - Gus Panas (Paul Sorvino) - after 10 years despite a consistent lack of success. Even baseball legends get the boot when they run through a few bad seasons, so why would the Brewers have kept Panas around for so long?

Oh, I know - because it fits the story in a loose way. Actually, everything about the tale connects only in a loose way, as it makes little sense in almost every way. Stan changes his personality at the drop of a hat. He goes from intensely selfish to a strong team player and back with virtually no rhyme or reason other than the whims of the plot. This is one of those “cart pulling the horse” movies that will ignore simple logic to try to maintain its various story goals, as absurd as they may be.

Perhaps I could forgive some of this if Mr. 3000 wasn’t a relentlessly dull movie. I like the concept behind the story, but the film seems like it goes out of its way to render everything as boring and drab as possible. Mac is generally a charismatic performer, but he comes across as neutered here. He plays Stan in shades of blandness and never turns him into an interesting character.

No one else makes an impact either. Bassett is badly miscast as a sports reporter and never comes across as believable. I don’t know who blackmailed Sorvino into his glorified cameo of a role. He has almost nothing to do here and just looks sad.

I can’t blame him, as I felt pretty mopey when I realized I’d wasted 103 minutes of my life on the relentlessly boring Mr. 3000. A predictable comedy without a single laugh or clever moment, this movie had some potential that it totally squandered. Full of easy answers and stock characters, it’s a complete dud.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Mr. 3000 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. Though it had some very strong moments, the picture suffered from a few moderate concerns.

For the most part, sharpness was fine. At times, the movie became a bit soft and ill-defined, primarily due to some edge enhancement. Otherwise, the flick was pretty concise and crisp. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, and only a few source flaws appeared. The movie was a little grainer that expected, and I saw a few specks as well.

Colors usually came across solidly. A few shots demonstrated some runniness, but the movie’s natural palette was bright and vivid most of the time. Blacks were dense and firm, while most shadows looked clear and smooth. The graininess made them a bit murky, but the low-light circumstances were generally acceptably distinctive. Though this wasn’t a great transfer, it seemed satisfying.

Someday I’ll figure out the rationale behind how studios select which movies will offer both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Why in the world did a comedy like Mr. 3000 receive dual mixes? I have no idea, and the DTS one seemed redundant. I noticed no differences between the pair, as they sounded identical to me.

To be sure, neither taxed my system. The soundfield heavily concentrated on the forward channels, even during scenes that one might expect would broaden things better. I thought ballpark sequences would open up matters, but they remained oriented toward the front. The mix offered a decent sense of atmosphere but not a lot more. Elements moved well and blended accurately. The track just displayed very little ambition and didn’t do much to accentuate the action. Crowd scenes opened things up slightly and that was about it.

Audio quality also was fairly lackluster. Speech consistently sounded crisp and intelligible, with no edginess to mar the lines. Effects didn’t play much of a role, and they lacked bite even when they become louder. No problems with distortion occurred, but effects failed to show much dimensionality. Music worked the same way. The score seemed a bit feeble and didn’t demonstrate much power. Overall, this was a somewhat thin and insubstantial mix that came across as pretty mediocre.

A decent set of extras shows up with Mr. 3000. We launch with an audio commentary from director Charles Stone III. He offers a peppy running, screen-specific discussion. Stone covers the standard mix of topics as he goes into the story’s long pathto the screen, casting and working with the actors, locations and shooting the baseball scenes, character issues, music, and general notes.

When I called the track “peppy”, that was probably an understatement. Stone blazes through the movie and rarely pauses for breath. Clearly some editing helps, as it’s apparent the DVD’s producers remove a few gaps, but Stone doesn’t seem to need much help. He comes across as a little too impressed with the movie, but he provides a good look at his flick. He really digs into character topics and delves into motivations and other such information. He’s so persuasive that he almost made me forget how bored I was when I watched the film. Anyway, this is a lively and mostly entertaining and useful piece.

After this comes the 15-minute featurette The Making of Mr. 3000. As one might expect, it presents the usual assortment of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Stone, producer Maggie Wilde, baseball adviser Andrew Prater, baseball coordinator Mark Ellis, and actors Angela Bassett, Bernie Mac, Amaury Nolasco, Tom Arnold, Ian Anthony Dale, Dondre Whitfield, Evan Jones, Brian White, and Johnny Arnold. They chat about the movie’s casting and other possibilities for the lead, baseball training for the actors and finding real players for minor roles, challenges created by the baseball scenes, the use of real media, character issues, and filming with thousands of extras.

To my surprise, “Making” largely avoids fluffy happy talk. Some of that occurs, and I can’t call it an in-depth look at the movie, but it doesn’t turn into the usual promotional piece. The footage from the set presents some nice material, and there’s enough solid information on display here to make it a moderately above-average program for its genre.

More background footage shows up in Spring Training: The Extras’ Journey. For this 10-minute and four-second piece, we look at the casting of the ballplaying extras. We hear comments from Coaches Rob Miller and Andrew Prater, extras Jered Kotarak, Gerald Davis Jr., Darin Haugom, Bill Posteluk, Eric Goerdt, Marcellus Dawson, Mike Zywica, Ernest Castro, Bert Beatson, Jeff Silbernagel, Bronzell Miller and Mike Mitchell. Tryout footage dominates this one, as we get a very nice behind the scenes look at the auditions. It presents a solid examination of an unusual subject and merits a screening. I like the fact it shows some movie clips and points out the extras so we’ll notice them.

A short featurette comes via Everybody Loves Stan. In the three-minute and 24-second clip, we get a montage of sports show elements used in the movie to comment on Stan’s comeback. These include some bits we didn’t see, so they’re fun to watch.

More of the same kind of material shows up in three Extended Sequences. Via “Play All”, these go for five minutes, 51 seconds, and include “SportsCenter”, “Mr. 3000 Mini-Mall Commercial”, and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”. Again, it’s entertaining to get a look at the full sequences.

Three proper Deleted Scenes appear next. These fill a total of two minutes, 13 seconds and cover “EA Sports Commercial”, “Doctor’s Office”, and “Skillet and Minadeo”. The first is just an ad that includes Pennebaker, while the second reminds us of Stan’s crummy health and the third shows a little more of those characters’ competitions. The “Office” one is unnecessary due to all the other information about Stan’s health, but it’s the most useful of the bunch. The other two don’t give us much.

We can watch the scenes with commentary from Stone. Actually, “Commercial” comes only with commentary; it’s optional for the other two. He covers the clips well, especially when we learn the inside joke in “Skillet”.

A three-minute and 20-second collection of Outtakes comes after this. Mac’s improvisations offer a little bit of fun, but this area mostly consists of the usual goofs and wackiness.

When the DVD opens, it provides some ads. We get trailers for Ladder 49 and National Treasure. Both of those also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for ESPN and the TV series My Wife & Kids.

A good premise and able cast should have made Mr. 3000 a fun ride. Unfortunately, it ended up as a deadly dull dud. Very little amusement crops up in this slow and illogical tale. The DVD offers reasonably strong picture quality with surprisingly bland audio and a decent set of extras highlighted by a very energetic audio commentary. Even die-hard Bernie Mac fans should stay away from this clunker, as it manifests little entertainment value.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8181 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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