From the director of Naked Gun comes a side-splitting comedy of professional sports. Starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park), as two guys who invent a game in their driveway that quickly becomes a national obsession and catapults them into the spotlight, BASEKETBALL is a hilarious comedy about babes, brews and being number one.
eyelights: its satire of professional sports. its outrageous gags. its cameos.
eyesores: Yasmine Bleeth. its paint-by-numbers plot points.
“Soon it was commonplace for entire teams to change cities in search of greater profits. The Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles where there are no lakes. The Oilers moved to Tennessee where there is no oil. The Jazz moved to Salt Lake City where they don’t allow music. The Raiders moved from Oakland to LA back to Oakland, no-one seemed to notice.”
I don’t get people’s fascination with sports. Many moons ago, I used to play hockey, baseball and soccer. I was also a fairly devoted fanboy, watching some of my favourite teams, collecting sports cards and stickers and such.
My teen years started unraveling all of that, changing my focus gradually. Nowadays, I can’t help but wonder why we root for teams that are from our home towns in name only, filled as they are with players from elsewhere.
How can you call a sports team your own, when it’s anything but? Teams are filled with complete strangers that can be traded off anytime. In fact, the teams themselves can be uprooted and moved to completely unrelated cities.
So what’s there to root for? Unless you know someone who’s playing on the team, where’s the personal involvement? You’re basically cheering for complete strangers who have no connection to you except that they’re on “your” team.
It all just seems pointless and mindless to me now…
“You know Remer, someday I’m going to be a big sports star.”
Enter ‘BASEketball’. Based on a game that David Zucker created years earlier, the 1998 satire tells the story of two losers who invent a new game for the average joe to play and follow: easy rules, little physical effort, and sexy cheerleaders.
Mixing up the rules of basketball and baseball, and throwing in psyche-outs to stop the opposing team from making hoops, BASEketball becomes extremely popular – and, within 6 years, is a national sensation with multiple pro teams.
Of course, with such popularity comes the temptations of money and fame: Pressure begins to mount on our two nitwits, Coop and Remer, from the other team owners, who want the rules to allow for corporate sponsorship, trades, …etc.
But Coop and Remer, who started the league with the help of billionaire Ted Denslow, have put in place checks to prevent the new sport from losing its focus and principles. They created BASEketball because other sports had become a farce.
They aren’t about to let it happen to their game.
But Denslow chokes on a hotdog and bequeaths the Milwaukee Beers to Coop – on the condition that the team wins the championship. If they don’t, the Beers will fall under the sole ownership of his opportunistic young widow, Yvette.
She and co-conspirator Baxter Cain, owner of the Dallas Felons, have plans for the National BASEketball League…
They desperately want the Beers to fail.
“It’s hard to believe that just five years ago this game was played only in driveways.” “Yes, it’s also hard to believe that just five years ago those girls were only in grade school.”
Honestly, it would be easy to dismiss ‘BASEketball’: it made no money, stars Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the creators of South Park, who are not noteworthy actors), and delves into a kind of sophomoric humour that doesn’t inspire respect.
Except that it was co-written and directed by David Zucker (of ‘Airplane!‘, ‘Top Secret!‘ and ‘Naked Gun‘ fame), outdoes the madness of the professional sports world it spoofs, and boasts some brilliant cameos from reputable industry figures.
In short, it has its share of fun.
In fact, I watched it with a buddy of mine who was once an avid armchair athlete (and isn’t anymore for precisely the reasons mentioned in the picture) and he laughed so hard that I had to up the volume because he buried too many jokes.
But let’s be honest: the humour can be very crass – clever, but crass. It was, after all, co-written by Zucker and starring the guys from ‘South Park’ (who reportedly offered plenty of suggestions along the way, and which Zucker took).
The two camps together produce a spectacular gag reflex.
“Dude, I know you’re feeling jealous right now. Don’t blame me because I have a sweet ass! I can’t help it!”
A perfect example comes right at the onset, after the hilarious initial set-up (which explains the whole predicament with pro sports and take it to extremes with inter-sports play), when we are first introduced to the adult Coop and Remer:
Crashing a party held by Brittany, a former high school classmate that Remer wants to !@#$, they decide to go through her underwear drawer. They eagerly sniff some panties, and Remer vigorously licks a vibrator – but get caught by her.
Naturellement. (You saw that coming, right?)
Except that it’s not her room: it’s her mom’s!
Not all the humour is sex-related, but there’s plenty of sexual innuendo – along with stuff that’s too in your face to be considered innuendo. Thankfully, the picture also delves into various types of humour, switching it up often enough.
“We like to think of them as health-challenged and survival-impaired.”
Another notable sequence is when Coop and Remer go visit Joey in the hospital, to impress Jenna, from the Dreams Come True Foundation. For his last wish, he makes all sorts of unethical requests, like hunting an endangered animal.
Thankfully, they talk him down to simply spending a day with the Beers, which leads to all sorts of mischief and ends at a local bar for a drinking binge. Too bad the lil’ tike is expected at the hospital for a life-saving surgery the next day!
“Oh come on, that wasn’t a gay joke, it was an Australian joke!”
One the recurring gags are the psyche-outs, which take place at all of the games (which, in and of themselves are long-running gags, what with their un-PC team names and risqué cheerleaders, both male and female, and absurd theme nights).
The whole idea is that the opposing team gets to attempt to deconcentrate the player who’s trying to make hoops, usually without direct interference, by saying or doing things that shocks or grosses the player out. It’s a blast to watch.
“Goddammit! I swear if you guys rip on me 13 or 14 more times… I’m outta here!”
Another recurring gag revolves around Squeak, their friend. That little bitch endures all manners of abuse from the pair, as he has no self-respect. He doesn’t even understand why they’re riding him, why they use him as a psyche-out.
But he eventually gets it. And he does too.
For all the inspired bits, there are tons that aren’t. There’s a terribly embarrassing scene during the reading of the will, when Denslow (speaking from a prerecorded video) tells Coop about an ointment that he likes to anoints himself with.
And proceeds to do it to “I’m Too Sexy”.
It’s awful, but it’s amazing that they got Hollywood legend Ernest Borgnine to do it. In fact, it’s stunning what the filmmakers get otherwise reputable celebrities to do here, like Robert Stack spoofing his ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ show and persona.
“You’re excited? Feel these nipples!”
One of the most enjoyable is Bob Costas and Al Michaels as the BASEketball sportscasters, making idle talk and commenting on the game; they were consistently funny and seemed to have a great time spoofing their straight and narrow image.
Yes, they’re non-actors, but not much is asked of them. And, anyway, most of the performances are appropriately cartoony – although Parker (who has an endearing John Ritter quality about him) and Stone have a little bit of screen chemistry.
What I especially like about Parker and Stone is that they are game to do anything; it’s not like they expected everyone around them to demean themselves for their benefit. They were in on the joke and participated all too willingly.
Perfect examples of this are when Jenna goes to see them in the locker room and they are both naked (yes, they did their own nudity) and swing their dicks about, or when, after having had a falling out, they quite literally kiss and make up.
Wow, that takes guts.
“What an unfortunate thing to happen on dozen-egg night!”
Unfortunately, there are no stellar performances and there are plenty of abysmal ones. Yasmine Bleeth (who plays Jenna), in particular, is especially wooden. I’m not sure if she knew what she was doing there; she looks totally zonked.
Seriously, though, with adjusted expectations, ‘BASEketball is a blast. It starts off really strong (skewering pro sports and then setting up its own game, its players, …etc.), enough so that I would give that part an 8 out of 10.
Granted, then it falls into predictability, plot-wise, with the only thing keeping it afloat being the silly gags and the skewed views of its participants. Thankfully, it’s enough to salvage the picture, even if it’s not enough to make it truly great.
“So, if the Beers beat Detroit and Denver beats Atlanta in the American Southwestern Division East Northern, then Milwaukee goes to the Denslow Cup, unless Baltimore can upset Buffalo and Charlotte ties Toronto, then Oakland would play LA and Pittsburgh in a blind choice round robin. And if no clear winner emerges from all of this, a two-man sack race will be held on consecutive Sundays until a champion can be crowned.”
Ultimately, there is no other film like BASEketball. If you’re into sports and/or into Zucker/Zucker/Abraham and/or Trey Parker and Matt Stone, check it out: this one is a no-brainer.
Date of viewing: March 30, 2016