The Bad News Bears (Michael Ritchie, 1976). Mildly entertaining movie about youth baseball and a beer-swigging, cigar-smoking coach. I wonder if I would have liked it more if I'd seen it in 1976. I'm guessing that back then, there was something refreshing about a bunch of foul-mouthed youngsters and their alcoholic mentor. In 2023, I felt like I've seen plenty of movies about characters like this. And the general plot (sports movie about underdogs who rise against the odds) isn't exactly unique. It's nice that Michael Ritchie mostly ignores the potential to make everyone learn to be better people. Sure, many of the kids are a little more confident at the end of the movie, but it's not overdone, and Walter Matthau's coach is still drinking beer and smoking stogies at the end of the movie. All of this makes The Bad News Bears a little better than the norm, but I'm surprised this movie led to two sequels, a remake, and a television series. And I cringed that the coach taught the curve ball to Tatum O'Neal's young pitcher. At least by the end of the movie, her arm was too sore to pitch.
Geezer Cinema/Film Fatales #174: Joy Ride (Adele Lim, 2023). An unexpected, raunchy delight from first-time director Adele Lim. Perhaps in 50 years this will seem as passe as The Bad News Bears does now, but in the meantime, it's a joy ride indeed watching the four leads break stereotypes, have lots of sex and fun, and discover something about identity in the process. Kelly Pau wrote an excellent piece about the film's "full-frontal subversion of sexuality for Asian women", concluding, "In an age where representation can easily become a tokenized marketing buzzword, 'Joy Ride' offers a more nuanced portrayal that upends the hypersexualization of Asian women characters. It's testament to how representation is not just a matter of putting people of color onscreen but also behind the camera, in positions of power and in the writers' room." It's often hilarious, and a real crowd-pleaser, if the audience at our showing is any indicator.