September 21, 2004

Mr 2999 Just Doesn't Have The Same Ring

berniemac.jpgChris Rock. To a lesser extent, Wanda Sykes. Margaret Cho. David Cross. Bernie Mac. These are comedians for whom Cinecultist will follow to any number of stupid features in the theaters if they're in them. [In case you didn't know, Pootie Tang is a movie that just gets weirder and better on each subsequent viewing. The train of thought goes like this: Bernie Mac -> Head of State -> Chris Rock -> Pootie Tang -> On TV again this past weekend. ]

seecat.jpgNeedless to say, CC went to see Mr 3000 at the 3rd Avenue theater on Sunday afternoon purely because Bernie Mac was in it. Other actors may do a scene, but Bernie Mac, now he bernie macs it. He has a grin like a Cheshire cat and a weird sex appeal that makes his banter with Angela Bassett, who plays his love interest in the movie, actually believable.

Now it's important to understand that CC isn't saying Mr 3000 is not a formulaic three act Hollywood sports movie. That's exactly what it is. The trailer spells it out for you, the plot follows all the road marks like it's the President of AAA. However! Bernie Mac has charm. Bernie Mac has verve. Bernie Mac has this smile, that lets you in on the joke and makes it actually okay to yuk it up at the corny gags. That's some serious star quality if we ever saw some.

The character motivation is also straight out of a bad Syd Field Screenwriter's book. However, Bernie Mac actually turns it into something that you don't want to hurt yourself while watching. He plays Mr 3000, Stan Ross, a former major league baseball player who upon hitting 3000 base hits in his career, quits the Milwaukee Brewer's mid season with the assumption that he'd be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame asap. Now, nine years later it comes out that three of the hits don't count and thus, Stan Ross returns to the majors to regain his title. See, his character is a Bad, Selfish Man who only thinks about himself, and Bernie Mac is pretty convincing as the cock of the walk pro athlete. In fact he's doing this shtick so well in the first 20 minutes, CC wondered if he could turn it around to make him likable at the end, when he has the inevitable change of heart. But he does. Bernie Mac's Mr 2999 at the end of the movie is a pretty good guy, with a bit of an edge still on him and though the closing shots are treacly, we actually kept down the bile.

Sure, it seems weird to recommend a movie by saying, "the ending didn't make me throw up into my popcorn tub!" but that's what we're saying. Formulaic isn't all bad, when you've got a charmer above the title like Bernie Mac.

Posted by karen at September 21, 2004 9:00 AM