Nearly every sports fan has, at one time or another, tried to invent a new sport. As kids we used to sit around the backyard brainstorming for such ideas, hoping that something insightful would pop into our heads. Unfortunately not much did, and whenever something managed to pop up, we immediately decreed it as stupid and we went on to something else, like trying to invent new comic book heroes.
Thus the intrigue of "BASEketball," a parody film of sorts that targets sports movies and our national obsession with sports overall. Just like our childhood backyard failures, however, this film's newly invented sport should have been quickly rejected. That's because it's neither very interesting nor -- especially important for the movie -- very funny. While its defensive tactic of annoying, humiliating or "psyching out" the opponent offers a few laughs, the overall concept isn't funny and that immediately hurts the film.
It also suffers from a horrible case of timing in that it's the third gross out/parody film to come along in as many weeks and will no doubt suffer from the audience's overexposure to such material. Although it's directed by David Zucker (part of the team responsible for the "Naked Gun" and "Airplane" movies) and stars the creators and vocal talents of the hit animated cable TV show, "South Park," it's doubtful this film will last long in the theaters.
Since its general concept isn't funny, the film needs to either "excel" at the gross out material (such as in "There's Something About Mary") or use the comedic machine gun approach by throwing out as much goofy and stupid material as possible and hope that the audience finds at least some of it amusing or better yet, outrageously funny.
While the film does offer a few good laughs (all depending, of course, on what you find funny), it's easily the weakest of this month's parody films and surprisingly doesn't have as much humorous ammunition for that comedy machine gun as one would expect.
Certainly tasteless, vulgar and guaranteed to offend at least some moviegoers, I found the film occasionally funny, but overall quite weak. Perhaps it's having recently experienced two similar films, but this one had the least "sophisticated" (if you can even use that phrase in this genre) or clever humor of any such entries in this genre in a long time.
For every parody gag that works -- a funny, but potentially offensive bit such as "Road Kill Caught on Tape" (that spoofs the FOX TV network's sensationalistic programming), and the jokes about the corporate-sponsored stadiums (such as one named after a certain feminine hygiene product) -- there are many more gags that don't work.
A bit involving "free range chicken night" at a game (with chickens all over the field/court) might have seemed funny on paper, but falls flat in execution. So do scenes featuring jokes about "The Horse Whisperer" as a sleep-inducing sedative and a bit featuring Ernest Borgnine dancing to Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" song (which, like the macarena scene in "Mafia!," is a few years too late).
For a film that's supposedly spoofing sports movies, the filmmakers -- considering their "pedigree" -- have surprisingly missed a great deal of "spoof worthy" material. While there's some brief stuff involving "The Natural" (the baseball film starring Robert Redford), the scenes are nearly more homage than parody based, and so few people saw that film more than a decade ago that they -- and especially today's teens -- won't get those particular jokes.
I kept waiting for funny bits on "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams" ("If you build it, he will come"), or even other sports films such as "Rocky," but they never appeared. Considering the slam on today's sports, the perfect film that should have been the focal point of the movie -- "Jerry Maguire" -- is nowhere to be found. After a funny opening monologue about the decline of sports and a brief scene showing celebrating football players breaking out into an Irish line dance, the film pretty much drops the ball.
Instead, it goes for less inspired laughs -- mainly the taunting of opposing players during the "game" -- and includes a long scene with Robert Stack doing his "Unsolved Mysteries" bit where the only joke is hearing him cuss. For "South Park" fans, a few voices from the show briefly appear and one of the characters is named Kenny (although he doesn't get killed despite being abused throughout the film).
Not surprisingly, the performances aren't much here, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone demonstrate that they're probably better suited behind, rather than in front of, the camera. Longtime film stars Robert Vaughn and Ernest Borgnine can't do much with their weakly written characters, and both "Baywatch" babe Yasmine Bleeth and former MTV host Jenny McCarthy are pretty much used just as "eye candy" (especially McCarthy). Of course that should please this film's target audience of high school and college aged males.
Unless you fall into that group, you probably won't get much out of this film, although you may find yourself laughing a few times at some stupid or gross out moments. Even so, this is a pretty weak effort, especially considering the track record of director Zucker. Sadly, as is in the world of sports, you can't always hit a home run and sometimes end up striking out instead. We give "BASEketball" a 3 out of 10.