The Candidate: I haven’t watched this since high school, but I remember being thoroughly bored as even my younger self was able to see every twist and turns long before it came. Robert Redford stars as a candidate for U.S. senate who has no shot at winning so he challenges the establishment at every turn. I prefer my satire a bit more subtle.
Diggstown: James Woods is a con-man who bets another con-man that he can find a boxer who can knockout ten of Diggstown’s best boxers within the span of 24 hours. That boxer is Louis Gossett Jr. The two have great chemistry together, and the jokes that are there are pretty funny. Unfortunately, it goes for some dramatic moments that don’t really work. Oliver Platt is fun.
The Bad News Bears: Known for Walter Matthau being a drunk Little League coach and a bunch of kids who curse a lot, The Bad News Bears goes far beyond this with its brute honesty and real humor, rarely going for the cliche or contrived moment. Tatum O’Neal is pretty good as the team’s star pitcher, and the rest of the kids feel real, even if they’re not fleshed out as much as one would hope. The atmosphere is fantastic; I’m taken back to the 70’s every time I see it. One of my favorite movie scenes ever takes place in the final game against the Yankees, when that team’s pitcher, son of the coach, disobeys an order and tries to bean Engelberg. The scene highlights Vic Morrow, who plays the scary Little League parent to a tee without becoming a caricature. Ritchie really pulls every ounce of emotion out of this scene by saying very little. And then you have the ending, which is also the best of any kids sports movie.
Grade: A+ (I got a Harley-Davidson. Does that turn you on? Harley-Davidson?)
Other Michael Ritchie Films You May Have Seen
The Golden Child
Cops and Robbersons
A Simple Wish
The Couch Trip