Bernie Mac shines in ‘Mr. 3,000’

Bernie Mac in 'Mr. 3,000'
Bernie Mac in ‘Mr. 3,000’

There are probably a handful of actors around that I’d be willing to watch, regardless of the film. One of those people is Bernie Mac, who I think is a talented performer, and he definitely shines in Mr. 3,000.

The movie follows a loud-mouthed jerk of a baseball star, Stan Ross, who quits the sport when he reaches his 3,000th hit. Unfortunately, he quits as his team is in a pennant race, and virtually every one of his teammates hate him. Years later, after building several businesses based on his record, he learns that an uncovered error means he actually needs three more hits to make 3,000.

Dedicated to reclaiming his record, and finding his long awaited place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he returns to the game for three more hits. But when he does, he discovers that his arrogance was wrong, and tries to teach a new collection of baseball players how to be a better team.

The first thing that surprised me here was how well Bernie Mac did in the film. He shifts from angry and arrogant, to soft and cuddly with precision. And when the role calls for dramatic deliveries, he captures the moments like a seasoned professional. In one scene in particular, his talents really came out.

He and a former girlfriend who he hopes to reconnect with, played by Angela Bassett, are dancing and getting intimate. She is a reporter for ESPN’s Sports Center, and is there covering his return to baseball. But after several games and no hits, she’s been reassigned and is leaving. Realizing that he’s failing as a ballplayer and the press has given up on him, he’s shattered. The shift in Mac’s performance from cool and collected to a broken man is done so well, I found myself feeling for the character in a way I hadn’t up until that point. He sold the moment, and this is one of the reasons the film worked so well for me.

If I was disappointed by anything, it was the relationship between Ross and Boca, played by Michael Rispoli. It isn’t really explored as much as I would have liked. I kept wondering just why Boca liked Ross, who was such a jerk. Or why Ross seemed to be so close to Boca. But its never really explained.

I’m not sure this film was that big of a hit, and I think the main reason for this is because people expected a comedy. And Mr. 3,000 really isn’t much of a comedy. It’s not so much that it isn’t funny, it’s just that there really isn’t a lot of laugh-out-loud humor in it. It’s really more of a drama, close in tone to Bull Durham. Viewers expecting a goofball comedy will be sorely disappointed.

That said, I really enjoyed the movie. It was a smartly told film of redemption that not only has some real drama and strong performances, but it also manages to deliver the expected happy ending without giving it in exactly the manner you think.

As for the DVD’s features, it pretty much has all the standards, and does them rather well. Aside from the basic “making of” documentary, there are three deleted scenes, an audio commentary by the director, and a few outtakes. There’s also a documentary about the extras who came out to audition as baseball players, which is interesting if not a little dull.

I enjoyed the outtakes. And there’s a special mockumentary that compiles the ESPN footage used in the film, as well as the commercials, along with some new interviews with real life ballplayers. They discuss how much they hate Bernie Mac’s character as if he were a real baseball legend, and it’s actually rather clever.

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