Plot: After an unlikely winning streak, the Bears are back in action and this time, have a chance to test their skills against a prominent, highly respected team, with some serious stakes on the line. The Bears will face off against the Houston Toros and whichever side emerges victorious, will travel to Japan to battle their best squad in an international showdown. As Buttermaker has moved on, the team needs a new coach and some new players wouldn’t hurt either, with a specific need for a pitcher. When a new coach’s style clashes with the offbeat players, he is driven off, but the kids need to find someone else or risk not being allowed to venture to Houston. Can the Bears pull off the impossible and win their biggest game yet?
Entertainment Value: The Bad News Bears was able to rise above the sports cliches and offer some interesting social elements, but this sequel was an obvious rush to cash in and fails to recapture any of that cinematic magic. The narrative focuses more on the kids this time around, as there’s less baseball and Walter Matthau is gone, replaced by a less than stellar effort from William Devane. The loss of Matthau is evident, as without his comedic skills to work from, the young performers struggle and most of the humor falls quite flat here. The script even tries to wring some extra mileage of the same jokes that were used in the original, but it doesn’t work. A few laughs can be had at times, but not enough to make it worthwhile. As the best of the talent is absent and the script is thin to say the least, the movie relies more on the underdog cliches and childish humor, which just sinks the picture. I wanted to like this sequel, as the original is so good, but this is a total disappointment.
The absence of Walter Matthau takes a sizable toll on this sequel, as he anchored the first movie and elevated the material. The script in this sequel is much weaker than the original, but I still think Matthau could have made lemonade with this mess, whereas William Devane just goes through the motions. His performance isn’t terrible, but he seems disinterested and shows little passion, so he winds up just being there and doing little else. Which is a shame, as the younger cast needs someone to bounce off and he fails to provide that presence. Jackie Earle Haley has his role enhanced this time around, which is good as a strong connection to the previous movie, but he adds to the movie otherwise. The rest of the kids are dull and annoying this time, dialed up way beyond the fairly believable turns the first time around. Perhaps this was to try to milk some extra laughs out of this stone of a script, but that doesn’t happen. Clifton Jones does a capable effort in his role, however.