[box cover]

Mr. 3000

Calling a film formulaic is much like calling one pretentious; though there can be good aspects to both pretension and following a formula, it's a comment usually used as a criticism. But the problem with this argument is that most films are formulaic — in fact, some of the most revered filmmakers in history (Hitchcock, Hawks, et. al.) followed formulas. The truth is that great films often come from how much the makers and performers invest in the routine to make it work, and make it their own. Mr. 3000 (2004) is a formula movie, and yet it succeeds on its own terms by investing the tropes of its genre with heart and by the variations on the formula that help keep things off-balance enough to remain interesting. Bernie Mac stars as baseball legend Stan Ross, a player best known for his arrogance and cocksure behavior. Never much of a team player, he quit the game right after getting what was thought to be his 3,000th hit. But after eight years out of the game he hasn't been inducted into in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and after campaigning for his inclusion, it's revealed that his stats were inflated by three hits. Now 47, Stan decides to return to his Milwaukee Brewers to get those three needed hits that will guarantee his legend. But though he still has the swagger of old, he's not the same player, and the minute he gets up to bat he realizes that he's out of his depth. From here, it's not hard to figure out where the story is going to go. Yes, the cocky champ must learn the value of teamwork that he never knew when he was successful. Yes, he has a doppelganger in hot superstar T-Rex (Brian J. White), whom he takes under his wing to help make sure that T-Rex won't make the same mistakes he did. Yes, he's able to right wrongs with ex-girlfriend and reporter Mo (Angela Bassett). And yes, after getting two hits he returns to his arrogant ways briefly only to realize the error of his ways during the "big game." And yet all these moments are effective because of Bernie Mac's measured performance and the assured direction of Charles Stone III (who also did the same sort of work with the similarly seemingly rote Drumline). Both Stone and Mac make the beats of the story effective, even if we know they're coming; Mac's first hit is done perfectly, while his romance with Bassett does everything it's expected it to while also having some nice surprises, and the two have a great chemistry together. Mr. 3000 may only reinvent the wheel, but (to turn a cliché into a poorly drawn analogy) it's a smooth ride nonetheless. Buena Vista presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include a commentary by director Stone, "The Making of Mr. 3000" (15 min.), a featurette on the search for extras who can pitch called "Spring Training: The Extras Journey," while "Everybody Loves Stan" (3 min.) features some of the film's SportsCenter coverage. Also included are three extended scenes (6 min.), three deleted scenes with optional commentary (2 min.), outtakes (3 min.), and bonus trailers and sneak-peaks. Keep-case.

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