Win one for yourself

One of the big complaints about sports is the recent focus on superstars and media coverage which has left the concept of teamwork in the dust. This summer's Olympics featured a United States basketball team that was roundly condemned for being composed of (want-to-be) stars. So it was inevitable that the subject would be tackled on film.

Bernie Mac plays Stan Ross, a baseball player who quit the game right after making his 3000th hit, seemingly guaranteeing a Hall-of-Fame berth. He makes his life after baseball around calling himself Mr. 3000, and even owns a strip mall packed with typical strip mall stores, only themed around the number 3000. Well, lo and behold, as they gear up to vote for the hall-of-fame, it discovered that his hits in a game earlier in his career were double-counted, and he's really only Mr. 2997. What's a man to do but, nine years after leaving the game, stage a comeback to get his coveted title back.

From the premise, which will be plenty well known by most entering the theater, there's a number of things we can expect - the jokes write themselves here. Plus, having such a self-centered character go on a quest like this will be doomed to learn some sort of life lesson on the journey to 3000. Let's face it, the movie is formula.

But as formula films go, Mr. 3000 pays off well. Getting back into the game is genuinely difficult for Stan, and his internal struggle is no walk in the park either. The setbacks make sense and the high notes are well earned. Bernie Mac does an excellent job here, a perfect match to the role.

The most annoying part of the film - okay, I could have done with a few fewer sports shows being highlighted, but that's more of a personal preference - is the formula-requisite love interest, a sports reporter (Angela Bassett) who was involved with Stan once upon a time, and gets thrown together with him with all the hoopla of the oldster's return to the game. This is one place where the script falls squarely into the formula trap. A few moments in this plot work alright, but mostly I found myself figuring the prime factors of 3000 and trying to guess the dimensions of the wall-of-baseballs in Stan's sports bar. Honestly, I'm not sure there's a full 3000 there, but we never had any good long shots once I started down that path. The wall is at least fifteen baseballs tall (which would mean 200 baseballs wide), and probably no more than 25 tall (120 wide). The proportions don't match what I remember the earlier long shots showing, but I'm not yet betting one way or another on this. But I digress, oh I digress.

Mr. 3000 is surprisingly good. Those into sports should definitely enjoy it, and it's a light but meaningful romp for the rest of us as well.

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