BASEketball (1998) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for strong language, nudity and crude sexual humor
Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Yasmine Bleeth, Ernest Borgnine, Jenny McCarthy, Robert Vaughn, Trevor Einhorn, Bob Costas, Al Michaels
Director: David Zucker
Screenplay: David Zucker, Robert LoCash, Lewis Friedman, Jeff Wright
Review published March 17, 2004
Director David Zucker (Airplane!, The Naked Gun) returns after a 5 year hiatus from the movies with an ambitious, but ultimately undercooked idea for a sports comedy, BASEketball, which is apparently inspired by real game that Zucker and his buddies conceived of while playing around with the driveway hoop. It probably should have stayed there, as there is very little other than some crude humor to make it any different than many other screwball sports comedies to come before it, too closely resembling another entry in the Major League series to break any new ground. Granted, this is supposedly showcasing a whole new sport, basically shooting hoops mixed with some baseball scoring rules, plus a no-holds barred system of psyching out your opponent that is the fuel for most of the film's laughs. As portrayed by the film, the rules make very little sense, and consequently vested interest in the proceedings doesn't have the impact it should during key moments when victories fizzle instead of pay off, and jokes fare little better.
The other novelty for fans of the raunchy television cartoon, "South Park", comes from the lead casting of that show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who have a lack of charisma that shows that they are better off hiding behind cute characters talking filthy for laughs. They star as Joseph "Coop" Cooper and Doug Remer, who aspired to be the next superstar athletes, but found too many obstacles in their way, including a lack of talent. They do have one saving grace -- they can shoot a jump shot quite well, even with distractions, so they invent their own game to make themselves the athletes they've always dreamed of being. Unlike real professional sports, they decided to limit product endorsements, player movements, and everything else they feel has been ruining the other popular pastimes. However, as the sport gains mass appeal, the sharks have begun to move in to try to make a buck, and to make the pressure worse, Coop and Doug have to win it all if they plan on retaining ownership of their team.
There are a handful of laugh-out-loud funny moments in BASEketball that almost makes the terrible premise and acting worthwhile, most of them coming at the expense of distinguished sportscasters, Al Michaels and Bob Costas, who both seem to be on the verge of laughter with every ridiculous line they have to utter. Outside of this, there are many other cameo appearances, but there's little for them to do save make these popular icons curse whenever possible, as if the shock value of Robert Stack or Reggie Jackson using bad language would be enough to strike laughter in the audience. A couple of the psych-out gags are clever as well, but most are silly or sickening, depending on your tolerance for crude humor.
BASEketball is just another over-the-top lowbrow endeavor, utilizing as much frat-house hijinks to cover up the fact that there just isn't enough here to justify its own existence on he big screen. It isn't completely unfunny, but considering the amount of talent Zucker was fortunate enough to assemble, it should have been so much more than it is. This one is strictly for genre fans and those foolish die-hard "South Park" addicts who think Stone and Parker are comedy gods.
©2004 Vince Leo