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The Bad News Bears

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Bad News Bears

Image credit: The Bad News Bears, 1976

I have absolutely no idea what’s happening in the world of professional sports right now, but I’m guessing things are not normal. If you’re missing your peanuts and CrackerJack, and starting to wonder if you’ll ever get back, then allow Cinema Sips to tide you over with a classic baseball flick, The Bad News Bears (Disc/Download). Featuring an alcoholic coach, a feminist pitcher, and a ton of salty language, this 1976 ode to Little League and Southern California will have you experiencing all the flavors of summer.

In this perfect time capsule of a movie, Walter Matthau plays Buttermaker, a retired Minor League pitcher and current pool cleaner of the San Fernando Valley. He accepts a gig coaching a team of all the kids who weren’t good enough to play on the existing Little League teams, thinking it’ll be an easy day in the dugout with a cooler full of beer. As the misfits and all their schoolyard problems start to get under his skin, he realizes he has an opportunity to give these kids a badly needed confidence boost. He recruits the talented Amanda (Tatum O’Neal) for her golden arm, motorcycle-riding delinquent Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley) for his stellar batting average, and brainy Ogilvie (Alfred Lutter) to help him Moneyball the heck out of this league. Buttermaker’s strategy works, and eventually the Bears start winning games. The script is genius, but it’s the realistic performances that make me come back to this film year after year. I feel like I get to journey back to an era where people went inside a Pizza Hut to have dinner without irony, and a towheaded kid named Lupus could mix you the perfect martini.

Speaking of alcohol, it’s kind of amazing that Coach Buttermaker could hand out brewskies to a group of eleven-year-olds after the game and it wasn’t all over social media the next morning. I’m sure he still got to keep his job, and I bet those kids didn’t even care that they lost. While watching The Bad News Bears, join in the fun with this Honey-Bear Shandy.

Honey-Bear Shandy

1 oz Vodka

1 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Honey Syrup (2 parts Honey to 1 part Water, boiled and cooled)

5 oz Hefeweizen Beer

Orange Slice for garnish

Combine vodka, honey syrup, orange juice, and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Add beer, stirring to combine. Garnish with an orange slice.

Honeybear Shandy

If you’ve ever known what it is to get picked last in gym class, if you’ve ever been underestimated because you’re a girl, or if you’ve ever felt like you’ll never live up to the expectations someone has for you, then you’ll probably relate to this film. I always say, I love baseball movies not because of the sport, but because of the sportsmanship. This year may be full of bad news, but we’ll always have the Bears. Cheers!

Gentlemen Broncos

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Image Credit Fox Searchlight, 2009, Gentlemen Broncos

Image Credit Fox Searchlight, 2009, Gentlemen Broncos

Warning: things are about to get weird. After OD’ing on girly high school movies in May, I’m kicking off the summer with one of the more bizarre films in my DVD collection. I like to think it’s gained a sort of cult following over the years, but maybe it’s just a cult of me, my husband, and our friend Allen. Oh, and Tilda Swinton, who was quoted in the March 21st, 2014 issue of Entertainment Weekly as saying that this film was “kind of insane….Just go and find it.” Find it I did, in the 99-cent bin at Blockbuster, to which my husband exclaimed, “They’re practically giving it away! Don’t they know what they have??”

Gentlemen Broncos (DVD/Download) can only be described as an enormous box office flop. Budgeted at $10 million, it only ended up grossing just over $113,000 when it was released in 2009. I vaguely remember Jemaine Clement (who plays author and plagiarizer Ronald Chevalier) coming to our city to promote the film, and then it just sort of vanished. Written and directed by Jared and Jarusha Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame, Gentlemen Broncos is essentially a story about a young boy who dreams of becoming a science fiction writer, only to see his manuscript stolen, and his book Yeast Lords adapted into a terrible low budget film. While this story is playing out, the filmmakers also intersperse the story of the actual manuscript, acted out a couple of different ways by the always-brilliant Sam Rockwell. It’s confusing, but stay with me. The hilarity of the film stems from its satire of the science fiction genre, complete with bizarre character names, troll analysis, and pompous writing. Jennifer Coolidge steals just about every scene she’s in, playing the mother of the young writer who makes rock-hard popcorn balls, lives in a geodesic dome house, sells Dynasty-era nightgowns and befriends a redneck with a python (played with creepy aplomb by Mike White). This movie is so, so bizarre, but I absolutely cannot stop laughing throughout it.

Of course, even the greatest bad movies can sometimes benefit from a strong cocktail. It can’t hurt, right? In honor of the movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie Yeast Lords, I’m making a beer-based cocktail. This one features citrusy notes that pair well with a Hefeweizen, and is a great drink to kick off summer. When watching Gentlemen Broncos, I recommend drinking a Yeast Lord.

Yeast Lord

1 oz bourbon

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz simple syrup

4 oz Hefeweizen beer (I’m using my favorite German Hefeweizen, Weihenstephaner)

Lemon Wedge

Mix first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with Hefeweizen, and garnish with Lemon wedge.

Yeast Lord

Yeast Lord

Each time I watch Gentlemen Broncos, I always wonder- what must the actors have thought when they read the original script for this? Did they laugh out loud like I do every time I watch it? Did they shrug their shoulders and just figure that it was so bizarre, somebody was bound to find it funny? I like to think that this movie is well on its way to achieving cult-classic status, and surely this groundbreaking and bound-to-be-highly-read post on Cinema Sips will push it over the edge. Or, maybe it’ll just be me, my husband, Allen, and Tilda Swinton in on the joke. Either way, I’m ready for a cocktail and a laugh. Cheers!