Movies — Mr. 3000 (PG-13)

Mr. 3000 (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Bernie Mac makes a stab at a film career beyond sidekicks and supporting roles as the ego-the-size-of-Fenway-having ex-ballplayer in Mr. 3000.

Stan Ross (Mac) was a powerhouse of a hitter, getting 3,000 hits during his career with the Milwaukee Brewers—exactly 3,000. The moment he made the 3,000th hit—assured of his place in the baseball hall of fame and in baseball history—he quit the team, even though they had a shot at the World Series.

Nine years later, Ross is living off the successes of his 3,000 fame—he owns a Mr. 3000 Shopping Center full of Mr. 3000 shops that keep him in natty suits and a comfortable mansion. Up for a place in the Hall of Fame (a spot he never quite wins due to some extreme bastardness during his time as a player), Ross gets closer than ever this time thanks in part to a retiring of his jersey that brought in the fans and had a whole stadium screaming for him. But baseball officials have to do a little checking first and they soon find that the numbers don’t add up. What had appeared to be 3,000 is actually 2,997—three recorded hits don’t actually count.

Ross is devastated. His whole life (not to mention his bankability) is built on being Mr. 3000. He decides to suit up again and regain his 3,000 ranking and his place in baseball immortality. At 47, however, that is not as easy as it appears. The Brewers and Ross’s longtime friend Boca (Michael Rispoli) help him get back in shape. Though the team management welcomes Ross and the increased attendance he brings, the team players are less than thrilled. They don’t like Ross’ assessment that they are a “bunch of Little Leaguers” nor do they appreciate his all-for-Stan mentality. And, they already have a cock of the walk—T-Rex Pennebaker (Brian J. White), a power hitter as full of braggadocio and selfishness as Ross was.

And, of course, you can’t have a good comeback story without the return of a former lover interest. Ross’ once and future fling is ESPN reporter Mo Simmons (Angela Bassett), who is also starting to feel her age. She plans for a life behind the camera but, despite his overtures in this direction, can’t plan for a life with Ross. She doesn’t really believe he’s changed his selfish ways.

Mac is a good comic actor—especially good at this kind of role, which requires him to over-inflate his ego for the singular purpose of having it popped. It’s this kind of persona that makes his funny, smart and slightly edge family comedy The Bernie Mac Show (the new season of which started Wednesday on FOX) rise above the standard sit-fam-com formula.

In Mr. 3000, he achieves something similar. This is your standard sports movie stuff—the learning a lesson about teamwork, the defeat, the redemption. But in between all the stuff that we know is coming, Mac offers up some surprises, mostly in the way that he’s willing to show emotion as often as he is willing to showboat.

For the most part, the supporting characters live up to the relatively high standard that Mac sets here. White’s younger version of Ross, Rispoli’s supportive friend, Chris Noth’s team owner—all do a good job of fleshing out relatively small parts. (Bassett plays her character a little too close to the edge of hysteria—where she’s supposed to seem like a woman who’s been hurt by Ross before and is not tough as nails because of it, Bassett just seems like a woman who can’t find her Ativan.) The team plays like an actual team—first like a team of losers and second stringers and later like one that’s, eventually, championship- bound.

Though bits and pieces of the Sports Movie Variant Baseball formula stretch the story out needlessly, Mr. 3000 has more base hits than strikes. (How’s that for a girly stab at a sports metaphor?)

- Amy Diaz 

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