Major League: Back to the Minors (1998) / Comedy
aka Major League 3
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language
Running time: 100 min.
Cast: Scott Bakula, Corbin Bernsen, Ted McGinley, Walton Goggins, Judson Mills, Kenny Johnson, Erik Bruskotter, Bob Uecker, Jensen Daggett, Dennis Haysbert, Takaki Ishibashi, Lobo Sebastian, Thom Barry, Peter Mackenzie
Director: John Warren
Screenplay: John Warren
Considering that the first Major League was enjoyable but nothing more than passable, perhaps lower expectations are in order for any sequels that might spin off of it. Certainly, after the redundancy of the sequel, Major League 2, there weren't many clamoring for a continuation of a series that already looked like one movie too many. This third film, Major League: Back to the Minors, will do little to bring new fans to the series, but for those who like these irreverent, eccentric sports flicks, it's dumb entertainment, but entirely watchable nonetheless.
Not all of the cast is in (Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger do not reprise their roles), and the Cleveland Indians are out, making way for the Minnesota Twins organization. The star of this film is a new character, Gus Cantrell (Bakula, Color of Night), at the end of of a middling pro career as a pitcher beseeched by his old friend Roger Dorn (Bernsen, The Great White Hype) to be the manager of his Triple-A minor league team, the Buzz, using his skills on imparting knowledge to the up-and-comers to mold the next superstars. Gus is reluctant to accept the position, but eventually comes around, only to find that the team is one of the worst he's ever seen, dispirited and needing great discipline.
Recruiting veteran players like Pedro Cerrano (Haysbert, Heat) and Taka Tanaka (Ishibashi, For Business), along with trying new approaches with his team of potential talent, Gus starts to put together a formidable presence in the Twins organization, perhaps even rivaling the talent of the major league team. When petty issues emerge between Cantrell and egotistical Twins' manager Leonard Huff (McGinley, Revenge of the Nerds), the two decide to take their arguments on the field, in a highly-publicized event to show the public just who is the manager deserving of leading the Twins organization to the future.
Major League: Back to the Minors isn't flashy or even particularly hilarious, but it does generate a certain likeability through its lackadaisical approach and easygoing attitude. There's just something intrinsically comforting about baseball itself that the makers of this film are able to exploit, as the game, like the movie itself, is not in a hurry, working on fundamentals and small things, rather than going up to the plate to swing for the fence wildly. Another part of this is the pace of star Bakula himself, who lent an equally laid back approach to a previous sports film, Necessary Roughness, another dumb but not entirely bad entry in the formulaic football comedy genre.
The premise of the team makes little sense, as it seems very difficult to believe that players with talent levels that are probably even less that your average guy on the street would be enough to make a Single-A ball club, much less one step from the majors in Triple-A. There also appears to be only two pitchers on the roster, neither of whom could probably pitch their way out of one inning with their skills being so lacking, and yet, their ace seems to get into the ninth inning every time out. It's also strange that Bob Uecker (in apparently his final acting appearance), who plays the former voice of the Indians in the previous films Harry Doyle, would also be the announcer for The Buzz -- what, do announcers really get traded AND demoted? The more you know about baseball, the more annoying these sorts of things will be, so I would say that this film is aiming ore toward the casual interest crowd rather than the true-blue bat-heads.
Sports films fans will deem it a bloop single hit, but those who aren't in tune, especially those who are tepid to clichéd, dumb comedies, will think this entry was brought up to "the bigs" before it was ready.
©2007 Vince Leo