[Screen It]


(1998) (Scott Bakula, Corbin Bernsen) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild None Mild None None
Mild None None None Moderate
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
*Minor Minor None Minor Mild

Comedy: An over-the-hill baseball player takes a job managing a lousy Triple-A baseball team.
Gus Cantrell (SCOTT BAKULA) is a middle-aged, veteran minor league baseball pitcher nearing the end of his career. Fortunately for him, his old friend, Roger Dorn (CORBIN BERNSEN), the owner of the Minnesota Twins, makes him an offer to manage the Buzz, his Triple-A team. Arriving in South Carolina, Gus finds just one decent player, "Downtown" Anderson (WALT GOGGINS), a home run slugger, on the squad.

The rest -- including catcher Rube Baker (ERIC BRUSKOTTER) who can't throw anymore; Doc Wingate (PETER MACKENZIE) an intellectual pitcher whose fastball is too slow to be picked up on radar; Pops Morgan (THOM BARRY), an old and out of shape outfielder; and Hog Ellis (JUDSON MILLS), a pitcher capable of throwing only one pitch -- are a bunch of "misfits" who can barely play the game, let alone compete against other teams. Gus' inspirational coaching style and the appearance of former big league players, Pedro Cerrano (DENNIS HAYSBERT), a Cuban voodoo outfielder, and Taka Tanaka (TAKAAKI ISHIBASHI), a Japanese player, however, get the Buzz on a roll and they start winning games.

Pleased by their winning streak, Dorn summons Gus to Minnesota where he challenges him and his team into an exhibition game against the Twins and their manager, Leonard Huff (TED McGINLEY). When the game ends in a draw due to Huff's cowardly actions, Gus and his team return to South Carolina without Downtown, whom Huff as picked for the big time. Despite enduring a momentary losing steak, the Buzz begin winning again and finally face the Twins once more in a game with Gus and Huff's careers on the line.

If they liked either of the original "Major League" films or baseball movies in general, they just might.
For brief language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS: 1 out of 10
  • SCOTT BAKULA plays a middle-aged manager who tries to get his players to function like a team.
  • WALT GOGGINS plays a hotshot batter who doesn't listen to Gus' advice until he learns the hard way that practice and discipline are important.
  • TED McGINLEY plays the leering, egotistical scoundrel of a manager who throws a fit if he doesn't get his way.


    OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
    It's been nearly a decade since I last saw the original "Major League" (1989) and while I don't remember many details about it, I do recall that it was a goofy, but occasionally funny baseball flick. I also remember that it had a decent cast that included Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, and Rene Russo, among others. While certainly not a great film, it was passable entertainment and made nearly $50 million at the domestic box office.

    Five years later, the inevitable, but somewhat late sequel arrived in the form of "Major League II." While I'll admit that I don't recall even seeing the film (if I did, it didn't leave much of an impression), I do know that the more talented of the performers -- specifically Russo and Snipes -- did not return despite the fact that many of their other companions did for their sophomore "season." Not as successful as the original, the sequel grossed around $30 million domestically.

    All of which brings us, now four years later, to the second sequel, "Major League: Back To The Minors." While Warner Brothers may be trying to make the latest entry in the series fresh by ignoring the numeral "III," "3" or "Three" in the title, the fact that the studio didn't screen this for the press and the absence of Sheen and Berenger do not bode well for any sort of financial, let alone critical success.

    Feeling incredibly longer than its less than 1:45 run time, the film offers absolutely nothing new to the baseball genre. There's the stereotypical over-the-hill manager who finds himself coaching a group of misfits who eventually become quite good and make it to the last big game where, surprise, surprise, they win in the bottom of the ninth inning. At least that doesn't occur in the last game of a championship series (as is so often the case), but the fact that it's an exhibition pairing gives the conclusion even less of what little dramatic flair it might have possessed.

    The baseball scenes are uninspired (and even look like they're using a computerized baseball many times) and the attempts at comedy fall flat and strike out not once, twice, or three times, but throughout the whole production. Real-life announcer and beer commercial star Bob Uecker is given some of the worst material feigning to be comedy that we've seen in some time (referring to a player's ability to catch a ball: "I've seen better hands on a clock"), and other moments -- such as using English subtitles for a Japanese player who's speaking completely intelligible English -- will either dumbfound or insult the audience.

    Scott Bakula ("Necessary Roughness," TV's "Quantum Leap") appears to be playing his stereotypical role by uninspired rote, Corbin Bernsen (TV's "L.A. Law" and the other "Major League" movies) delivers a flat performance, Jensen Daggett (of the TV show "The Single Guy" and used as Gus' girlfriend) shows up just as pretty eye candy, and Ted McGinely (TV's "Married With Children") plays the standard issue buffoon and does about as well as he did on his previous TV show.

    Writer/director John Warren (writer and director of the little -- if ever -- seen "The Curse Of The Inferno" with Pauly Shore and Janine Tuner) should -- if he still has his wits about him -- distance himself as far from this dud as possible. Feeling and playing out more like a cable TV movie or a straight-to-video flick, it's surprising this one ever made it onto the big screen, but don't expect it to last very long. We give "Major League: Back To The Minors" a 1 out of 10.

    Other than being a bad movie, the only other major objectionable element is the profanity that includes 8 "s" words and an assortment of others. Beyond some drinking, mild bad attitudes and a few bits of rather tame violence, there's little else with which to object. Even so, you may want to take a quick look through the content should someone in your home wish to see this film.

  • Gus has a beer in front of him while eating dinner.
  • Roger drinks a cocktail while Gus has a beer in a bar where a rather drunken background character is escorted out.
  • The game announcer states that " it's games like this that used to get me over-medicated" as he makes a drinking sign with his hand.
  • Roger has another cocktail in his private box along with Gus and his girlfriend.
  • Roger, Huff, Gus and his girlfriend have drinks in a hotel.
  • Roger has another drink, Gus has another beer, and a pitcher and two women drink beer.
  • None.
  • Downtown doesn't listen to Gus' instructions and thus gets benched for three days. Later, he thinks he's too good for Gus' coaching and goes on to the Majors where he learns that he was wrong.
  • For some reason, the film (assumedly in an attempt at humor) puts English subtitles along with a Japanese player as he talks in understandable English.
  • Huff looks down on Gus and his former and current career, and when not acting like an egotistical creep, behaves like a spoiled brat.
  • A player for the Twins has both as he thinks he's so good that people should pay him respect and chases several reporters out of the locker room when they don't.
  • A play-by-play announcer purposefully knocks another announcer's soft drink on him, but then acts like it was an accident.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "P*ckerhead," "Smart ass," "Suck," "Jerk off" (adjective), "Holy crapola," "Moron," "Kick ass," "Blowing smoke up your butt," "Shut up," "Dumb ass," "Geez" and "Nuts" (crazy).
  • The bee mascot gives the catcher (who nearly hit him with a ball) the "'f' you" sign (a hand into the elbow crease of the other arm that then raises in a fist). Later, a play-by-play announcer does the same to another announcer.
  • A ball player breaks a baseball bat over his knee.
  • A play-by-play announcer purposefully knocks another announcer's soft drink on him, but then acts like it was an accident.
  • Huff hits a TV with a baseball bat, causing it to explode.
  • Some players spit out what we assume is juice from chewing tobacco.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 8 "s" words, 1 slang term using male genitals ("p*ckerhead"), 10 asses (1 using "hole"), 8 hells, 7 damns, 3 S.O.B.'s, 2 craps, and 1 use each of "G-damn," "My God," "Jesus Christ," "Oh God," "Oh my God," "Oh my Lord," "Oh Jesus" and "God" as exclamations.
  • We see an exaggerated bulge in a player's tight underwear as he bends over doing some yoga.
  • A play-by-play announcer occasionally smokes a cigar.
  • Cerrano occasionally has an unlit cigar in his mouth (as does Tanaka in one scene).
  • Some players spit out what we assume is juice from chewing tobacco.
  • None.
  • Why they made this movie.
  • That being a player, or any type of competitor, means you have to practice, be disciplined and work with others as a team in order to succeed.
  • There are a few moments where players run into other players during the game.
  • Twin ball players (twin brothers) get into a brief tussle on the playing field.
  • A hit baseball accidentally strikes Gus on the back of his head, knocking him out.
  • Huff grabs a player's cell phone and throws it to the dugout floor and then stomps down on it.
  • After Huff pokes Gus several times with his finger, Gus grabs that finger and bends it backwards. Huff then punches Gus in the gut and they then get into a wrestling match that ends with Gus punching Huff in the face on the floor.
  • A ball player breaks a baseball bat over his knee.
  • Huff violently throws a baseball at the dugout wall that then ricochets and hits him in the head, knocking him out.
  • Huff hits a TV with a baseball bat, causing it to explode.

  • Reviewed April 17, 1998

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