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  BASEketball Sporting Chance
Year: 1998
Director: David Zucker
Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachir, Yasmine Bleeth, Jenny McCarthy, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Vaughn, Trevor Einhorn, Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Robert Stack, Reggie Jackson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Victoria Silvstedt, Greg Grunberg, Jill Gascoine
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Joe Cooper (Trey Parker) and Doug Remer (Matt Stone) have been friends for as long as they can remember, which goes back to the days when they would go and watch baseball games together as kids, their favourite player being Reggie Jackson. The proudest day of Joe's life was when he caught a ball Reggie hit as a home run, but it seems to have been downhill all the way since then, as now they barely attend sports any more, preferring to shoot basketballs in their driveway from a decidedly standing position. But no wonder: the state of the national games has become a joke, rammed with terrible gimmicks and ill-advised revisions, the players more interested in celebration antics, and crowds staying home. However, what if Joe and Doug's idea for a new sport caught on?

No prizes for guessing what that idea will be, it’s all there in the title, a mix of baseball and basketball that sounded weirdly plausible, though one supposed it had to be to sustain the sporting movies clichés that this film made no bones about spoofing mercilessly. It was a script that had been around for a while, the brainchild of comedy creator David Zucker with assistance from other hands that was finally rewritten as a vehicle for Parker and Stone, who at the time had broken through into the world of television with their hit cartoon series South Park. For some reason they were convinced that what fans of that show were eager to watch was not more adult animation, but them in acting roles. Live action.

As it turned out, the producers were wrong in that assumption and the movie flopped, though Parker and Stone were not so bothered, aside from acknowledging that they were not the most natural double act when you could see their faces, which would give any performer pause. However, while South Park continued for years afterwards, BASEketball saw its followers go back and pick up on everything their comedy idols had contributed to in the past, which was no bad thing as it meant Cannibal! The Musical finally won its due, but this little item was held up as a work of comedy genius that was shockingly overlooked, when in fact it was a wacky bad taste comedy that had some decent laughs, but was all over the shop in practice.

It wasn't enough to adhere to the typical sporting story, they had to add something of their own to it as well, so after a spot of tinkering with the script they presented BASEketball to the world that shrugged in indifference, probably because it was an idea that was not only familiar, but had been done to death so often that actual, sincere sporting biopics were in danger of looking like parodies too thanks to decades of being sent up. The result of that was the spoofs lived or died by their jokes, and Parker and Stone were left to fall back on a selection of inappropriate behaviour to secure their giggles, from spontaneous makeout sessions involving themselves to dear old Ernest Borgnine giving a rendition of Right Said Fred's nineties earworm, I'm Too Sexy. These would hit the mark occasionally, but they were rather complacent.

Considering how inspired and sharply written South Park seemed when it burst onto the pop culture landscape, BASEketball couldn't help but look like a retrograde step, and for every clever bit of business such as Coop's driving scene a la Rocky IV set to a rock tune that begins to grow weirdly specific, there were too many ho-hum slapstick or reactionary gags like the lazy San Francisco, New Jersey or overweight players ones that were barely above playground level. Every so often they would remember they had a story to tell and that would move on in fits and starts, but it seemed to be getting in the way of something that looked to have been happier as a series of sports-themed sketches, which might have been better. Still, for all those misgivings you didn't want to be too tough on it because it was by no means a poor film, there were entertaining things about it, yet the drive to one-up every other outrageous comedy out there was a battle nobody was going to win when they led up to material like Movie 43. And nobody wanted that. Music by Ira Newborn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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