|Mr. 3000 (2004)
Starring: Bernie Mac, Angela Basset, Chris Noth
Director: Charles Stone III
Compared to the golden days of baseball comedies like “Major League” and “Mr. Baseball,” filmmakers have finally run into a giant green wall. “Mr. 3000,” the latest sports film to hit theaters, strikes out as many times as the film’s retired power hitter during his one-month comeback. Unlike box-office contender “Wimbledon,” “Mr. 3000” has nothing extraordinary to contribute to the ever-growing pile of sports movies with an ineffective artillery of weak comedy and romance.
Bernie Mac stars as Stan Ross, a legendary ballplayer for the Milwaukee Brewers who is best known for his cocky attitude and dislike of the media. After recording his 3,000th career hit, a milestone only a select few players in baseball history have achieved, Ross immediately throws in the towel and begins to cash in on his million-dollar title, Mr. 3000. Nine years later, though, Ross still hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame and after the MLB numbers guys discover that he actually only has 2,997 hits, the 47-year-old former star must rejoin the game to reclaim his rightful spot in sports history.
Outspoken comedian Mac is perfect for the role of Ross, exploiting the title character’s many flaws with egocentric perfection, but the script doesn’t have enough heart to support the selfish arrogance that Mac fumes. There is no reason to like Stan Ross because there are no identifiable characteristics that make him a person you would want to know, unlike the highly regarded underdog of “Wimbledon.” Along for the ride is Angela Bassett as his on-again-off-again ESPN reporting girlfriend and a young Brewer hotshot (Brian J. White, maybe better known for his developing role on “The Shield”) who is too busy making a name for himself to enjoy the publicity stunt. White is a glowing star in an otherwise anemic field of upcoming black actors, but Bassett, who has built a career around her classy talent, takes on a lifeless role that could have been pulled off by any actress looking to make a few bucks.
By the time “Mr. 3000” rounds third base and makes its way home, the film has already pulled up lame by trying way too hard to impress. Instead of creating an enjoyable comedy about a group of screwball baseball players, “Mr. 3000” resorts to unnecessary reminders that Ross is a bonafide jerk when some in-game baseball action is what’s really needed to support the story. If you’re looking for a good sports movie, take your girlfriend to see “Wimbledon” or just channel surf all night until you find a commercial-dominated version of “Major League.”