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Mr. 3000 falls short of a home run

Movie: Mr. 3000

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) is a 47-year-old baseball star who is one of the few to have reached the landmark of 3,000 career hits. Once he reached that goal _ which he believed was all he needed to make it into the Hall of Fame _ he left the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle of a playoff race. His selfish attitude made his teammates, his manager and the sports writers (who vote players into the Hall of Fame) bitter. Nine years later he is the proud owner of a shopping center filled with lavish stores, all carrying his "Mr. 3000" moniker. Life is going pretty well for Stan, except he has not been inducted into the hall. When he finally does receive a call from Hall of Fame officials, they tell him he actually only has 2,997 career hits. Knowing that his already shaky reputation would be ruined, Stan decides to go back to the major leagues to reclaim his title as Mr. 3000. But the game has changed dramatically in nine years, and his "all about me" attitude doesn't fly. As his story quickly grows into one of the biggest comebacks of all time, Stan is forced to shape up and face the fiercely hard-throwing pitchers, skeptical teammates and brutally hard-hitting media.

My View: I have seen baseball movies that far surpass this one, like Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game and more recently, The Rookie, but Mr. 3000 does not slack off in the detail department. The accuracy of the baseball scenes along with cameos by hosts of sports shows (including ESPN's Peter Gammons and Fox Sports' Tom Arnold) give this film an extra dash of reality. Bernie Mac is a character indeed, and his performance here is nothing short of the hilarity that we see on his network television program, The Bernie Mac Show. He does seem a little awkward with a baseball bat, but that may actually be part of the catch. The '70s funk-laden soundtrack and guitarist Vernon Reid's funky filler music are extremely pleasing to the ear and provide the perfect backdrop for Mac's personality. The relationship between Ross and Mo Simmons (the always-good Angela Bassett, playing an ESPN reporter and still smitten ex-girlfriend) was bland. This moderately short film (104 minutes) ended on a positive note too _ the ending puts a big smile on your face.

Recommendations: The language and sexuality prevent this film from being something that just any Little Leaguer wanting to catch the latest baseball flick should waltz into. The rating is definitely appropriate. Baseball fans and Bernie Mac lovers are the right audience for this one.

Grade: C+

Billy Norris, 16, is in the 11th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.