The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978)

Directed by John Berry

Why? Just why? The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training was about all I could handle for bumbling mess of a sequel completely tarnishing the name of Bad News Bears, but I guess at least that film had its redeeming qualities, however few there may have been. The Bad News Bears Go to Japan is just a downright travesty of a film, and I feel completely sorry for Tony Curtis’s manager, who must have been fired, lambasted and humiliated, never to work in the business again. There are so many things wrong about this film that I’m not even going to spend my usual 4-5 paragraphs attempting to write intelligently about it. The film’s greatest crime is its complete lack of baseball until the waning minutes of the film, but the problems run much deeper than that.

After winning the big game in Houston in the previous installment in the series, the Bears are now on a trip to Japan to play top little league talent. They are once again under new tutelage, this time with someone who isn’t even a baseball man, Martin Lazar (Curtis), who is instead a promoter looking to make a quick buck off the Bears. The trip to Japan is a disaster as Lazar can’t keep control of the Bears, and their antics with a wrestler and the opposing team threaten Lazar’s “goldmine” for broadcasting the game in America.

Really I just can’t even. The complete lack of baseball in this film is filled with insane interludes with the players that made me start watching through my fingers, embarrassed for the film itself. Again Haley is solid, but is only really given a side love story to work with. Tanner and Lupus are missing, making the rest of the team a collection of fairly uninteresting characters whose screen presence is pretty lacking in charisma and entertainment. The ending of the film frames it as a tale similar to that of the original, with the adults screwing up the true meaning of the game of baseball, with the kids left to get back to its roots. But such a sentimental scene as the finale can’t save The Bad News Bears Go to Japan from the bottom of the baseball movie heap.

* – Poor

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