Bernie Mac gets a hit

September 17, 2004|By Carrie Rickey | By Carrie Rickey,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

In Mr. 3000, a fantasy-camp inspirational about a first baseman who gets a second chance at being a team player, Bernie Mac, that prickly cactus of grumpitude, blooms.

He plays Stan Ross, a bigmouth big hitter who retired about a decade before at the top of his game. So what if StanM-Fs team was in the middle of a pennant race? He had racked up his 3,000 hits, figured he was a Hall of Fame shoo-in, and didnM-Ft care a f ly ball about the BrewersM-F fate. But just before S t a n g o e s t o Cooperstown, tabulators discover he is three hits shy of landmark status.

Since StanM-Fs identity M-y not to mention his business empire and endorsements M-y is wrapped up in being that 3,000 dude, he asks Brewers management to let him rejoin the team. Three hits. Heck, he can make that in one game, right?

Now 47, Stan has a waistline thatM-Fs caught up to his age and a karma thatM-Fs caught up with his me-first dogma. For his new teammates, Stan is older than old-school, heM-Fs Paleolithic. And for Stan, his teammates are shockingly self-involved M-y just like he was back in the day. Complicating his M-tcomeback,M-v Stan has become a national story, with foxy ESPN reporter Maureen Simmons (Angela Bassett), an ex-girlfriend, dogging his every at-bat and dodging his every attempt to get on base.

Charles Stone III, who made the sleeper hit Drumline, doesnM-Ft so much direct Mr. 3000 as get out of the way and let Mac and Bassett do that movie voodoo that they do so well. One wishes that the screenplay were as accomplished as the actors, but one canM-Ft have everything.

Mr. 3000 is not a great movie, but itM-Fs affectionate. It reveals the cuddly side of Mac. It reimagines midlife romance with the warmth of a Spencer Tracy- Katharine Hepburn movie, if without its wit. And it holds out the fantasy that with a little Pilates and introspection, a selfish guy can become a selfless one.

Mr. 3000

Starring Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett

Diected by Charles Stone III

Released by Touchstone

Time 104 minutes

Rated PG-13 (sexual content, profanity)

SUN SCORE **1/2

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