Single page view By Jeff Merron
Page 2

"Bad News Bears" -- you've seen the original. Maybe you've played Little League yourself. The new version is supposed to be funny, but does it resemble real life? You decide.

In Reel Life: When the film opens, we see Buttermaker's full-time job -- he's an exterminator, trying to clear out a herd of rats from a suburban house.
In Real Life: Special effects? No. Those are 60 real, live rats. They had been in the basement but get into the kitchen, behind Buttermaker. According to the film's production notes, they were ousted from their cages with a blow dryer and a promise of food, signaled by a clicker.

"Depending on what day it was, the rats were easier to work with than the kids," Billy Bob Thornton told the L.A. Daily News.

Richard Linklater & Bad News Bears
Director Richard Linklater, pictured here clowning with his Bad News Bears, was a ballplayer himself.

In Reel Life: The film is directed by Richard Linklater, who first made his mark in Hollywood with "Slacker" and "Dazed and Confused."
In Real Life: Before Linklater was a director, he was a ballplayer -- good enough to play two years for Sam Houston State University on a baseball scholarship.

In Reel Life: Scooter-riding Kelly Leak (Jeffrey Davies) decides to join the team. He's much bigger than the other players and much better. He doesn't look like he's 12 or under, though.
In Real Life: Davies was 15 when the film was shot and will turn 16 in early August. But he has played on the small field, for Conway Little League in Florida. He might also know something about the political battles in the film: his mother is president of the league.

In Reel Life: Leak wants nothing to do with Little League except to show off on the field with his bike. But at one point, he picks up a ball far from home plate and nails a throw back to the pitcher.

In Real Life: That's really Davies. Took about 10 takes, though.

In Reel Life: Amanda Whurlitzer (Sammi Kraft) is a pitching whiz.
In Real Life: That's for sure. As Page 2's Tom Friend wrote a few days ago, she could bring the heat. How hot? Think 70 mph or so. Kraft has talked about how she was concerned about playing a part originated by Tatum O'Neal -- because she's not an actress, and by the time O'Neal appeared in the original, she was a Hollywood veteran. But here's what Kraft has over O'Neal: Kraft really pitched. In the original, most of the pitches you see were not thrown by O'Neal, but by two skinny boys who served as stunt doubles.

In Reel Life: Hooper (Troy Gentile) is a paraplegic in a wheelchair.
In Real Life: Gentile is not disabled. He had to learn how to use the machine. "I learned the wheelchair the first day," he said. "It was really easy. It took me about three weeks to completely get it."

In Reel Life Hooper's allowed to be part of the team despite his disability.
In Real Life Little League has had a "Challenger Division" for children with disabilities since 1989. There are now about 1,700 Challenger teams.

In Reel Life: Buttermaker is a washed-up ballplayer who pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Seattle Mariners.
In Real Life: Billy Bob Thornton claims he was a high school star and that he tried out for the Kansas City Royals. The tryout ended before he got a chance to show the Royals his stuff on the mound: an errant throw broke his collarbone.


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