In addition to being a successful sitcom star and established
comedian, Bernie Mac has crafted himself a nice niche when it comes
to comedic supporting roles. With small parts in successful fare
such as “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Bad
Santa,” Mac has gained a following and it was only be a
matter of time before he broke out in a lead.

Film Reviews
Take a look at this wood. This feels a little small to me.

Mac has stepped up to the plate, literally, to deliver his first
headlining role in “Mr. 3000.” The sports comedy, which
was in development hell for 10 years (with such actors as John
Travolta and Richard Gere originally attached to the leading role),
certainly showcases Mac as a likable and capable actor, but
unfortunately his talents are not enough to save the film.

Mac stars as Stan Ross, an arrogant and cocky baseball player
for the Milwaukee Brewers. Ross may be a great athlete, but his
reputation seems to take center stage — he is icy toward the
media and isn’t exactly fan-friendly. Only playing the game
for himself, Ross quits the game after 3,000 hits since he believes
that record will guarantee him a spot in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
However, his decision means that he has to abandon the Brewers
— which ends up costing the team the pennant.

Nine years later, Ross is making a push to finally be inducted.
Long out of the game, Ross spends his time hanging around the
sports bar in his self-created shopping center, designed around the
theme of 3,000 hits. But then it’s discovered in Cooperstown,
where they’re prepping for the latest inductees for the Hall
of Fame, a few of Ross’s hits were accidentally counted twice
— leaving only 2,997 hits to his name. With Ross’
legacy at stake, he has to get back in the game and reclaim those
three hits. While a spot on the team is guaranteed due to the
former star’s popularity (the team’s owner sees Ross as
a way to bring fans back to the stadium), his athletic ability is
questionable. With a whole new set of challenges facing him, can
Ross recapture his former glory and rightfully reclaim the title of
“Mr. 3000?”

In a nutshell, “Mr. 3000” is about second chances,
learning humility and that winning isn’t everything. During
his big comeback, Ross has to learn — and teach — the
true meaning of teamwork, and get rid of his narcissistic
qualities. On top of that, a romantic subplot involving an ESPN
reporter (Angela Basset) is thrown into the mix. This is all
formulaic stuff, and while there’s nothing wrong with taking
an old idea and putting a new spin on it, this film is an exercise
in sports-figure stereotypes. The known archetypes are all here:
the smug athlete who must redeem himself, the greedy owner, the
betrayed manager and so on. The only difference is that this
formula has been more successful in other movies.

Frustratingly, the story doesn’t even try to challenge the
audience. Instead of intertwining the subplots, the movie presents
its stumbling blocks one at a time (with the exception of the
romance, which is ongoing). The conflicts presented throughout are
natural, but they are slightly overdone and wrapped up far too
easily. Some of these incidents don’t even give a fine sense
of closure, and it feels like the only reason they are there is to
just hammer in how selfish Stan Ross is. Ultimately, the film tries
too hard and becomes overstuffed. The finale, complete with Ross
giving a voice-over out of nowhere, is a poor attachment that is
meant to wrap up some open threads easily.

Most surprising though is that the film isn’t that funny.
There have been several other baseball comedies before that managed
to be inventive, but the jokes in “Mr. 3000” are pure
retread — a lot of the laughs are predicable and border on
cliché. All of this is shocking, since Bernie Mac is very
gifted when it comes to generating laughs. The comedy works best
when it pokes fun at Ross’s success, such as the opening
endorsement and his advertisement for the shopping center, but
despite a few good lines, the film is far from hilarious and lacks
comedic consistency.

Even though Bernie Mac isn’t drop-dead funny in the movie,
he does make the film work a lot better than it should. This
isn’t a complex role, but it fits Mac’s strengths as an
actor well. He does give off a respectable vibe as Ross, finely
capturing his driven intensity and gradually makes his character
sympathetic. Angela Basset, as Mac’s love interest, also puts
in some strong work. She is a welcome and solid presence —
especially in the film’s most dramatic scene. It’s just
too bad that the film’s supporting actors aren’t given
too much to do.

Charles Stone III, best known for helming the sleeper hit
“Drumline,” does a decent job as a director here.
Despite some portions of the movie dragging on and the overload on
Ross’ nature, Stone makes this a pretty even affair for the
most part. The director also showcases some nice visuals, and he
certainly stages the baseball scenes well by keeping a strict focus
on the action. Stone continues to prove that he has a good
sensibilities as a filmmaker, and can indeed cross over to
different types of audiences.

Ultimately “Mr. 3000” is a passable film, which is
able to hold some interest due to the talent of the actors. Bernie
Mac definitely has a future as a full blown comedy actor, but he
can’t help this movie knock it out of the park, as it barely
makes it to first base.

 

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

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