“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Baseketball

Okay, I’m not gonna look up who it was, and I forgive you, but somebody asked me to include BASEKETBALL in this series, and I’m a people pleaser, so I watched it. I hope you’re happy.

You see, the idea of BASEKETBALL is that it’s like baseball, and yet also it’s like basketball. That’s why it’s called baseketball. The first syllable is the first syllable of the word “baseball” and the second and third syllables are the second and third syllables of the word “basketball.” But the thing is those are usually two totally different sports. That’s why combining them into one is silly silly laughs for everyone. It makes no sense!

Okay, to be fair, this was not originally intended as a topic for a movie. Apparently director David Zucker and friends made up the sport and played it for ten years and it became a big thing in their neighborhood (“inspired by a true story” say the production notes), and maybe he looked into the abyss and the abyss looked back at him so he thought it was acceptable as an idea for a movie. Or maybe he just wanted a movie for his friends to watch.

I’m very surprised that there are actual rules to the sport, because they were never clear to me in the movie. There’s a small court and you try to shoot hoops but somehow it has to do with the bases and home runs also. The main part of it is that one player tries to shoot a basket and a player from the other team, rather than defending them, tries to do a “psyche out” which involves saying something about fucking their mom or doing something gross like squirting milk out of their nipples or whatever. So basically it’s a template for doing that kind of stuff over and over again.

The weird notable thing about the movie is that it stars South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, or, as the production notes put it, “”the auspicious joining of two generations of comedy leaders is a movie event of a fairly unprecedented nature.” It’s their only for-hire acting gig, though they reportedly suggested jokes, and there’s a funny montage song that’s written and sung by Parker. The two had made the low budget live action movies CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL and ORGAZMO, but South Park wasn’t even on the air yet when they signed on for the movie. By the time it came out they were in their second season and had become a cultural phenomenon, raising a generation of cynical political incorrectness worshippers and militant apathetics who would help hand the country over to Trump and destroy America [citation needed].

Beer swilling asshole loser dickweed pals Joe “Coop” Cooper (Parker) and Doug Remer (Stone) invent the game of baseketball because they’re just dudes and bros who love to drink beer but are not athletic but got good at shooting hoops and made up a game that doesn’t require them to run around. They play it in their driveway and it attracts so much attention that a businessman (Ernest Borgnine, EMPEROR OF THE NORTH) finances turning it into an actual professional sport, and they become superstars.

The movie seems to be sincere about its nostalgia for an alleged more innocent time in sports history, when young Coop worshipped Reggie Jackson and caught one of his home runs. An omniscient narrator (Stephen McHattie, THE TALL MAN) complains about mercenary free agent athletes selling themselves to the highest bidder, teams changing cities for more money, corporate sponsored arenas and, maybe just to set up a joke, the “vulgar grandstanding” of post-touchdown dancing. (I’m sure if it was now he’d have some choice words about the outrage of respectfully kneeling during the national anthem.)

All this stuff that was actually happening in the real world caused the people in the world of the movie to be so fed up they stopped watching sports. Wishful thinking I guess. But it’s sort of the theme of the movie that the two fight about whether to sell out and let the league allow this kind of stuff or stay true to the purity of the innocence of the, or, you know, the code of honor or whatever. So there’s a schism. In KNIGHTRIDERS terms, Coop is Ed Harris and Remer is Tom Savini.

Some of the humor is that Man Show kind of stuff that’s just “ha ha, you know how we men are, we’re lazy and we love beer and we like looking at boobs, ha ha.” So their team is called the Beers and the cheerleaders are, like, stripper types who wear leather bustiers and carry riding crops. As far as lowbrow jokes about Coop and Remer being gross pervert losers go, I’d say one of the best is during the opening credits when they go to a popular girl they knew in high school’s party uninvited and snoop around the house.



At the party they make up baseketball in order to have a sport they can beat the more athletic dudes at. There’s a short guy named Squeak (Dian Bachar, “Nervous Tech,” GALAXY QUEST) who they get fired from his job turning off their gas and let him sleep in a cardboard box in their house. They let him be on their team and “they’re always rippin’ on” him and he’s a pretty good foil for them.

As is traditional for this type of comedy, a super hot and saintly woman for no reason falls for one of the loser dipshits, so that the audience can feel uncomfortable wondering how much they’re really expected to pretend like they give a shit about these characters. In this case it’s Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth as the head of a Make a Wish type foundation who introduces him to Joey (Trevor Einhorn, Mad Men), a kid with cancer who idolizes him. And then she mostly doesn’t notice when they’re being assholes.

Jenny McCarthy (SCREAM 3) is on the cover of some releases of the movie, but she’s in a smaller part as Borgnine’s gold digger widow who sleeps with the bad guy (Robert Vaughn, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) to try to get money. Her big joke is when he asks her to “lay some carpet” and then she’s moaning but the camera pulls out and she’s literally pushing nails into carpet. At the end he’s being a jerk and she says “I just realized I can’t stand you. You can kiss these puppies goodbye!” (gesturing to boobs) and that’s not really a joke so I guess we’re supposed to just be excited to see her stick it to the bad guy.

I’ve noted the homophobic jokes in most of the other comedies of the summer. In this one there’s a team called The Ferries who are handsome buff gay guys. Coop gets called out by the ref and claims “Oh come on, that wasn’t a gay joke, that was an Australian joke!,” so there’s at least an acknowledgment that you shouldn’t make fun of people for being gay. But also there’s that joke where Squeak gets drunk and makes eyes at a trans woman or crossdresser and they all make fun of him because he doesn’t know and also it makes Remer puke at one point (but he’s hung over).

There’s also a scene where they bury the hatchet and then graphically make out. Obviously this is supposed to make us go “eeeww!” but also their willingness to do it suggests that they do not technically have the phobia. Other comedic daring includes unflattering shirtlessness and showing their bare asses.

Dated references: a nurse says a kid “smells like Robert Downey, Jr.,” because this is when people thought of him for his addiction and not for being Iron Man.

For the most part the jokes are not my style, but harmlessly stupid. The most painful part is a pretty long slapstick sequence where they think Joey is dying and they decide that they’re doctors and try to do surgery on him. There are jokes like

1. they shock Squeak and smoke comes out of his ears and then he flies into a “soiled laundry” chute
2. Coop imitates Scotty from Star Trek
3. Coop has bedpans on his feet
4. He causes him and a nurse to get shocked

Pictured: comedy and laughs

It’s surprising how long they allow this scene to keep going.

As in the more beloved Zucker movies, there are many deadpan performances from usually-serious character actors and some sports celebrities. Bob Costas and Al Michaels are heavily featured doing commentary during all the games, and AIRPLANE!’s Robert Stack and Kareem Abdul Jabbar and NAKED GUN’s Reggie Jackson all appear as themselves.

If I had to choose a joke that caught me off guard and made me laugh, it’s actually right at the end when Coop’s childhood hero Reggie Jackson brings him his game winning ball and says he still has two of his home runs but “some wretched little shit got the third one.”

Here is by far the most and only important thing about this movie and the reason I’m glad I saw it. You may remember me pointing out that that both DIRTY WORK and DOCTOR DOLITTLE had references to ROCKY III. BASEKETBALL does not, but it does have this joke involving Mr. T:

Speaking of DIRTY WORK, I would consider that to be the far supierior cheesy lowbrow joke-a-minute comedy of the Summer of ’98. And when it comes to regular schmoes making lowbrow joke-a-minute comedies about so-called guy humor, the classic is obviously THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. The First Amendment allows for us to have a BASEKETBALL available in that same summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to watch it.

According to the press kit type information included as an extra on the DVD, Bachar was roommates with Parker and Stone until ’97 and “Trey and Matt love to give me serious grief and get a reaction from me. But I give some back. Besides, I don’t have cable, so I don’t watch South Park, which drives them crazy.” They knew him from Colorado University and put him in their previous live action movies.

BASEKETBALL was written by the team of Zucker & Robert LoCash (CB4) & Lewis Friedman (mostly an awards show writer, including The Guy’s Choice Awards) & Jeff Wright (RUPERT PATTERSON WANTS TO BE A SUPER HERO). Ten years later – following the more normal MY BOSS’S DAUGHTER starring Ashton Kutcher and SCARY MOVIE 3-4 – Zucker would put a nail in the coffin of the argument that conservatives can be funny by directing AN AMERICAN CAROL, the, uh, satire(?) where he blames Michael Moore (played by Chris Farley’s brother) for 9-11.

As Parker’s bleached hair indicates, BASEKETBALL is the most white ska of any of the ’98 movies I’ve been watching. The band Reel Big Fish performs in more than one scene and there are also songs by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, The Ernies and Smashmouth. The DVD includes a video for a Reel Big Fish cover of a-ha’s “Take On Me” where the band play janitors at a stadium who fall asleep and dream about playing baseketball, interspersed with them playing their instruments and occasionally clips from the movie of Parker and Stone getting kicked in the balls and hit with eggs stuff.

I knew this wasn’t necessarily a giant smash movie, but I was surprised how seriously it tanked. Put it this way: it opened at #11, behind JANE AUSTEN’S MAFIA’s second week! In its own week two BASEKETBALL got squashed by MULAN in its eighth week. In the end it made $7 million, approximately one dollar for each failed gag during the hospital slapstick sequence.

So it really was just Zucker’s friends who saw it. And now that I watched it I have to be one of his friends too. I guess I’ll just ask him questions about THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE and try to avoid politics.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 4th, 2018 at 11:46 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

24 Responses to “Baseketball”

  1. It’s been decades since I saw that one, so I don’t remember anything. Except that great blink-and-you-miss-it sightgag, about the dick size of the protagonists.

  2. *It’s been almost two decades
    (Of course it couldn’t be more than two and it were most likely less.)

  3. I think blaming any one show for low voter turn-out and an apathetic electorate is going too far. If you want to blame any TV show for Trump, it seems like The Apprentice is a far more likely candidate, spending years normalizing Trump as a supersmart business guru.

  4. It may have been me talking about this one so much. Apologies Vern.

    I had a double feature of this and Mafia the day this opened. Laughed hysterically at them both, but I believe I was sleep deprived. Still Baseketball became an inebriated classic in my dorm the following year, so I have fond memories. (Though I realize its not good).

    Guess we cant count on a Jane Austen”s Mafia review then, huh?

  5. The only joke I remember from this is the very “vintage ZAZ” kind of joke, where Robert Vaughn said something like “I couldn’t help overhearing you” and is holding high-tech listening equipment

  6. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 4th, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    I gotta admit, there was a time in my life where I thought this was the funniest film ever (when I was about 16-17 and was a huge South Park fan after having seen the first season or so). There were scenes in this that for years I would only have to think back to and involuntarily chuckle to myself. Funny thing though, trying to think of those scenes now the only one I could remember was the one in the car when he’s listening to the song that gets more and more specific as it goes along. Only after reading this review I remembered the Mr. T joke, which was definitely one of those moments and is probably the best joke in the film (and one of the very few that are still funny today). But I just looked at a compilation of ” funny” clips from the film on Youtube and overall it seems embarassingly bad. Had I watched it for the first time today, I probably would’ve had the same negative reaction Vern had.

  7. The worst thing about reading these reviews is that, even when Vern makes it clear he didn’t like the movie much, I always feel encouraged to go watch them. I probably never will see this, but my interest level somehow went from negligible to meh, despite the movie sounding like crap. Thanks, Vern!

  8. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 4th, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve been meaning to watch KUNG POW again, as that was another of my favs from a few years later, but now I’m wondering if I should just let it be and cherish the memories…

  9. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 4th, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Nevermind, KUNG POW still holds up

  10. Honestly, I had a while ago a theory, that South Park might be co-responsible for the return of Nazis to the mainstream, mostly because of how they normalized anti-semitic jokes and Nazi salutes through their Cartman character. It’s obvious that it wasn’t their intention, since Cartman is always clearly shown as a dumbass who deserves it, whenever something bad happens to him (which is pretty much every single time), but I think it’s a lot easier to justify your own Nazi views with a “Hey, it’s okay, I was just kidding, I heard it on Comedy Central, Nazis are fun, amirite?”.

    In the end, I believe that Parker & Stone simply overestimated the intelligence of their audience (and after a few years their own) and underestimated the impact that their show has.

  11. Every time Airplane! or The Naked Gun! comes on TV, I start to show it to the wife and explain how awesome these movies were, and then we just sit there for about 5 minutes watching the jokes land with a thud and I always have to go “no seriously, these were really funny back then!” and then change the channel. I was getting pretty sad that maybe the ZAZ-style humor may be finally past its expiration date, but then the other day we saw Fatal Instinct (not an actual ZAZ movie, I know) and whaddya know, we both laughed our heads off.

    All of this is a long-winded way to say your mileage may vary with these ZAZ movies – I always thought Top Secret was one of the best, and Airplane II was really underrated, but people seem to hate those. And everyone seems to love Hot Shots! even though I think that’s easily one of the worst of the genre. So I’m sure I’ll watch Baseketball again one of these days and whether I hate it or think it’s hilarious will probably just depend on my mood that day. I do remember loving it at the time and even the screencaps Vern put above made me smile instead of groan.

    Also: strange to think it’s been 20 years since Parker and Stone have really been in front of the camera. I thought they had pretty good chemistry and weren’t terrible actors, I wonder if they’ll ever act again or if they’re just content churning out South Park (which, like The Simpsons, I always liked but keep forgetting it’s still on).

  12. Gaul, that’s a lot of nuts!

  13. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 4th, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Winchester, I just watched a bunch of funny clips from it and man, the joy is still real, which warms my heart. Of course the cow-fighting Matrix parody scene was crap even at the time, but there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s still solid gold and had me laughing just as hard as it did back then.

    “You killed my family. And I don’t like that kind of thing.”

  14. I remember thinking this was pretty funny at the time, but I have absolutely no desire to return to it now. I can barely stand South Park at the best of times, and ZAZ movies were always a little hit-or-miss for me. I liked Airplane! as a kid, but I feel like nowadays I need *something* to ground me to an actual story or character, even if that does reveal me as an out-of-touch no-fun curmudgeon.

  15. Wait, people hate Top Secret?

    Sure, I mean, Mel Torme probably does. But other people do too? That’s…that’s just crazy talk!

  16. I don’t dispute that psyche outs are a pretty flimsy conceit, but I liked Baseketball as a spoof of sports movies. It nailed the cliches of underdogs and sellouts, even if it’s preposteous that a “yo mamma” joke would make a player fall over and be unable to stand up.

    Now An American Carol, that’s a fascinating movie. It’s as well made with impeccable comic timing as any Zucker movie but that agenda is so jarring. And I know we can disagree on things politically, but accusing a documentary filmmaker of being responsible for terrorism seems like a big leap on either side of the aisle.

  17. I saw Reel Big Fish earlier this year and they still rock as hard as ever, even if they weren’t the same band I ate with at an Oklahoma City Village Inn back in the ’90s. I have fond memories of laughing at this silly movie on the strength of Dian Bachar. “I am not a piece of shit.” “Yeah, but you’re a little bitch.” That I may have to re-evalulate. But I will always hate South Park because common people will not learn the lesson that Parker and Stone are trying to impart and just indulge in the Cartman-level interpretation of things. It breaks my heart, and I had to sell tickets to South Park: The Movie, being a person the movie made fun of. Wow, this is a schizo post, but I have a lot of memories, feelings, and emotions wrapped up in Parker and Stones’ (not to mention ZAZ’s) output. Glad you covered it, Vern.

  18. AIRPLANE!, TOP SECRET and RAT RACE are still damn funny. I even like the Naked Gun Movies.

  19. Hey y’all, now let’s not revise comedy history! Everything ZAZ did, from KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE to NAKED GUN 2 1/2 (they weren’t involved in part 33 1/3), including the POLICE SQUAD show and the more grounded RUTHLESS PEOPLE, was gold and still holds up, depending on how many times you saw them (and of course your own comedic taste, but even if you are not into that kind of silly slapstick, you have to admit how fresh and unique their style was back in the days).

    It’s not their fault, that their groundbreaking comedic style got appropriated by a bunch of less talented assholes, who ran it into the ground until we associated it with Friedberg/Seltzer crap and whatever knock offs Leslie Nielsen appeared in. (I do have a soft spot for REPOSSESSED and the Nielsen-free LOADED WEAPON 1. Gotta be honest here.)

    It IS their fault, that, once they all approached solo projects, they never reached the same heights again and their output was mostly crap. (Jerry Zucker was obviously the best of them, simply because he directed GHOST and RAT RACE).

  20. I forgot about RUTHLESS PEOPLE. That’s a classic.

  21. Red-hot take of the week: AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL is funnier than anything ZAZ ever did.

  22. Mr.S: As a defender of A2… “nope”

  23. I do think that Trey and Matt progressed from their Team America / early South Park days and were able to produce some worthwhile satire. Adam Curtis talked about how the Imaginationland saga was some of the best cultural commentary around and I agree.

    But, even there they felt the need to include Al Gore as a raving lunatic warning about the dangers of Manbearpig, which I guess was supposed to ridicule him for his vehemence in the global warming awareness battle?

    To me this little moment fully reflects how I felt on November 9th, but I imagine Trump supporters can just as easily parse it to their advantage (“look at these histrionic snowflakes”)

  24. Just a quick observation here: “Cherry Poppin’ Daddies” may be the single grossest band name ever.

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