Rooting for a Bad Guy

Mr. 3000

Mr. 3000 is the Dave of sports movies. Which is to say: It’s a good-hearted fantasy that sacrifices accuracy of detail in its chosen arena (in this case, baseball) in the interest of being emotionally resonant.

In Mr. 3000, Bernie Mac plays a retired ballplayer who makes an unlikely comeback to re-claim his place in history after Major League Baseball determines that three of his 3,000 hits don’t count. All you need to know about Stan Ross, Mac’s character, is that he quit as soon he got that 3,000th hit the first time, and he plans to retire for good when he reaches the milestone again.

Of course, you map out the movie in your head as it’s going along, but Mr. 3000 keeps confounding expectations. Yes, Stan starts to understand and appreciate the concept of team, but he reverts to his old, selfish ways as soon as he starts seeing the ball again and — more importantly — once he finds his way back into the media spotlight. Both Dave and Mr. 3000 eschew expected triumphant finales for bittersweet, surprising resolutions that work.

Beyond that, Mr. 3000 is the first movie I’ve seen that makes sensible and effective use of product placement, and Mac has an edge and hardness that are endearing. By playing a character who will never be able to escape his core self-centeredness, Mac has the balls to make himself unlikable in a central role, so the audience actually likes him more.

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