Mr 3000 (2004)

Directed by Charles Stone III
Written by Eric Champnella & Keith Mitchell and Howard Michael Gould

Baseball is famous for its obsession with statistics. There are certain benchmarks a player can reach which, as history tells us, guarantees their place in Cooperstown, the location of the Baseball Hall of Fame. For instance, hit 500 home runs in your career, notch 300 wins as a pitcher, or gain 3000 base hits in your career, and you will surely find youself enshrined one day. This obsession is just one of the many reasons I love the game of baseball, part of its charm. In fact, we will soon see a whole baseball movie dedicated to assembling a winning team on the basis of advanced statistics called Sabermetrics (Moneyball). But for now, we’ll take a look at a movie about a fictional players search for entrance into the Hall of Fame.

Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) was one of the greatest hitters in the game, without question or doubt. So when he reached the benchmark of 3000 hits in his career, he thought he had his ticket punched to Cooperstown, deciding to retire on the spot, quitting on his team. But when it came time for Ross to be elected, his numbers were run and 3 hits were found to be duplicates, making Mr 3000, only Mr 2997. Kept from his dream, Ross makes a return to the Milwaukee Brewers to search for his final three hits, but his arrogant and self-centered personality isn’t well remembered by the media or fans. In order to find his way back to the Hall of Fame, Ross must learn to play the team game, as he mentors a star player (Brian White) away from becoming just like him.

This is first and foremost a Bernie Mac vehicle. With that in mind, a lot of the entertainment value of Mr 3000 depends on whether you like his shtick or not. For me personally, it just works. Seeing the film again makes me mourn his way too early passing even more, as he was definitely an entertainer. Mac is typically loud and obnoxious, as he is here, but the method works wonders with his extremely charismatic delivery. He seems the perfect choice to inhabit the loud mouthed Ross, whose selfish style certainly reminds me of someone like Barry Bonds, who reveled in his own greatness to the detriment of his image.

The story itself here is fairly blandly delivered, and Mac is not surrounded by many interesting characters or performances, save perhaps Angela Bassett as the sports reporter he once had a relationship with. However, I think the perspective is unique for the baseball movie genre, which definitely aids in the films watchable qualities. We’ve seen the good veteran play For Love of the Game, and others mentor the young player such as Jake in Major League, but I think the baseball movie usually focuses on the “good guys” of the game. Stan Ross is certainly not that, but by flipping the script, Ross is able to learn valuable lessons from his return to the game at age 47, and in turn is able to impart this newly learned lesson to his younger teammates, and particularly the new him, T-Rex Pennebaker, who revels in his own successes to the detriment of the team as a whole.

It’s cheesy for this wholesome and light delivery, but again, is buoyed by Mac’s charisma. The film also features a couple dead-on representations of the game which are fun for true die-hards. There is a scene where Ross describes an ice-cream truck tune as a baseball song, and a handful of moments featuring the odd camaraderie of the middle infielders on the team and the goofy things they decide to compete against each other in. Mr 3000, bottom line, works way better than it really should. The supporting cast is weak, though not terrible, and that is mostly due to the fact that nothing much is ever built up around Stan Ross. But Stan Ross is all we need, thanks to Bernie Mac.

*** – Good

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