I have a working theory that the reason baseball seems to be the sport of choice for what I construe to be the slight majority of cinephiles is because it’s the most distinctly narrative. Nine innings of back-and-forth with each team getting the same minimum at bats, no games that end in ties like hockey, and an old Hollywood focus on the close-up (i.e. the man at bat). It’s a team sport, but the story belongs to the individual, which gives the otherwise comfortable corniness of Mr. 3000 its meta-celebrity subtext. Bernie Mac’s self-aggrandizing pugnacity has always been more or less its own punchline, usually capped with a riff on his feminized burlesque of haughty indignation. Mac plays Stan Ross, a former superstar who chose to rest on his laurels after hitting the titular amount of base hits for the Milwaukee Brewers. (Is it just me or is every film that seeks permission from MLB commissioner and registered asshole Bud Selig to use the league’s treasure trove of logos and locations forced to use Selig’s lapdog Brewers as their “home team”?) Two decades later, his impending induction into the Hall of Fame is still being annually filibustered by, at first, jealous and retributive sports journalists and then the retraction of three of his hits from his all-important tally. To reclaim his achievement and preserve his contention for the Hall of Fame, he returns to the team (and manager) he snubbed all those years ago. While there are only ever two or three possible outcomes to the main story, director Charles Stone III (who did his best to keep Drumline as rote and dramatically inert as possible, even with the benefit of kinetic, wall-to-wall percussive breaks) peppers his dugout scenes with the sort of good-natured camaraderie that I guess must pass for humanism these days (Mac teaching his neophyte teammates how to read a pitcher’s tips, Amaury Nolasco and Dondre Whitfield bickering and flirting like two of the cutest little ball-playing bitches). Thank heaven for Angela Bassett’s always luminescent, still husky sensuality, though. Otherwise Bernie Mac’s throwaway reference to gay marriage might’ve actually had to carry the weight of topicality.
Score:Cast: Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Michael Rispoli, Brian J. White, Ian Anthony Dale, Evan Jones, Amaury Nolasco, Dondre Whitfield, Paul Sorvino, Earl Billings, Chris Noth Director: Charles Stone III Screenwriter: Eric Champnella, Keith Mitchell, Howard Michael Gould Distributor: Touchstone Pictures Running Time: 104 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2004 Buy: Video, Soundtrack