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Mr 3000 (2004)

He’s putting the “I” back in team.

Directed by:

Charles Stone III

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 104 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Word has it the producers of ‘Mr 3000’ were turned down by a list of Hollywood big-hitters including John Travolta, Richard Gere and Denzel Washington (ever get the feeling you’re setting your sights a teensy-weensy bit too high, fellahs?), before finally settling on chunky comic Bernie Mac as their lead man. It’s a risk, because Mac’s acting career to date has seen him basically play “loud black man” in everything he’s done, yet here is a role that requires him to combine his usual shtick with a credible character arc and some modicum of emotion stretching beyond bewildered anger. And, credit where it’s due, he pulls it off surprisingly well.

He plays Stan Ross, an arrogant and unpopular man who also just happens to be an incredible baseball player. When he becomes one of only 20 other Major Leaguers to reach the 3000-hit landmark, he dumps his bat there and then and leaves his struggling Milwaukee Brewers team-mates to see out the rest of the season without him. You see, he reckons the 3000 hits are all he needs to get his name etched into the Baseball Hall of Fame – but after a lifetime of rubbing sports-writers up the wrong way, they’re getting their own back by refusing to vote him in.

Nine years pass, and an increasingly-podgy Stan looks like he’s finally about to see his name in lights – until, that is, he suffers an even bigger set-back: it turns out that, thanks to a statistical balls-up, he actually only has 2997 hits. So, at 47 years young, he embarks on the comeback required to drag himself back up to the magic number.

As so often tends to be the case with sports movies, ‘Mr 3000’ isn’t exactly the most original of tales. The plot has its share of inconsistencies (we’re led to believe the fans don’t like him, yet for some reason they’re only too happy to chant his name as he self-indulgently plays master of ceremonies), and I had a tough time believing there would be so little resistance within the club to a man of his age walking straight back into the team after almost a decade on the pies. But Stan’s gradual transformation from egotistical pillock to team leader and role model is up-lifting and enjoyable, and Mac’s attempts at sincerity in the latter stages of the film are unexpectedly convincing. The comedy side of things might not be great (I can’t recall actually laughing out loud at any of it), but this is a nice little film and you could do much worse than to give it a swing if the chance comes along.

It's Got: A zimmer frame and some corporate interest from Viagra.

It Needs: To make the Reebok product-placement a little less obvious.

Alternatives:

A League of Their Own, Mr Baseball

Summary

Bernie proves there’s more to the Mac in this likable tale of when baseball stats go wrong.

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