Junkfood Cinema: BASEketball

By  · Published on August 6th, 2010

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we know who you are, and we saw what you ate. If you are the sort of cinemaphile that only indulges in the choicest, most quality films from around the globe, then you should already aware that you hate me. I am the purveyor of cheap, half-rancid treats and Junkfood Cinema is the food truck from which I offer my wares. Every week we examine exactly what makes a bad film bad and why sometimes no lack of stars, tomatoes, or upright thumbs can keep us away from them. To make sure this column does actual physical harm to you in the real world and not just threatens your brain cell count via the web, I will pair each film with a delicious, if wholly unhealthy, snack food item. Today’s film is BASEketball, bon appetit!

Two confirmed losers realize that they are in danger of disappearing from the Earth without ever having done anything worthwhile. In an effort to curb their own obscurity, and increase their abysmal chances of getting laid, they invent a brand new sport. The sport is a combination of baseball and the backyard basketball game Horse; hence baseketball. They manage to rally enough community interest in the game to catch the eye of a billionaire investor who wants to create an entire professional baseketball league. While the two launch the league with hopes of eliminating all the commercial nonsense that has ruined every other pro sport, Cooper and Remer learn that the lure of the almighty dollar has the potential to not only ruin the spirit of competition, but friend ship as well.

What Makes It Bad?

BASEketball is the brainchild of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker who also star in the film. That simple statement carries with it a duffel bag of the most juvenile of basement-level comedy imaginable. There is a reason your mom didn’t let you watch this show as a kid or, if you are a bit older, that you didn’t let your kids watch this show. The sheer volume of dick and fart jokes, the classless gay bashing, and bizarre amount of kid trauma don’t exactly paint BASEketball as high-brow. I’m certainly no snob, but even I have limits. It turns out those limits are somewhere in the neighborhood of licking an elderly woman’s vibrator or drinking the fat liposuctioned out of Marlon Brando’s ass. On top of their usual brand of gross-out gags and general insipidness, Matt and Trey also manage to work in a very self-indulgent, equally juvenile bit about their members being the size of tree trunks. Hooray!

You know what was great? The 80’s! You know what wasn’t so great? The 90’s. BASEketball has the grand misfortune of being made in the most bland of decades since the 1870’s (look it up). And I’ll be Ace of Base’d if BASEketball isn’t chock-full of 90’s garbage. My favorite has to be the montage song: the instantly forgettable “Scatman” by Scatman John. The artist’s very name makes it sound as if I can’t remember it and was therefore forced to adopt the first name that popped into my mind. Not to mention the fact that we are supposed to buy that Matt and Trey are moving up in the world and are flush with cash by their adorning of the most ghastly of 90’s attire. The fact that it was made in the 90’s also accounts for my biggest problem with the film…

The one-two punch of female leads in this film is painful. The sweet, supposedly amiable love interest is played by 90’s runoff Yasmine Bleeth. She sure is…on screen a lot. I’m not saying Matt and Trey had boatloads of cash or had yet amassed the clout needed to net a bigger movie star. What I am saying is that her ability to be inordinately bouncy in a red one-piece does not a great actress make. Even Matt and Trey ended up mocking her pretty hardcore on a later episode of South Park so I imagine their relationship on set was less than friendly. And if that’s not enough bad acting for you, fear not. Waiting in the wings to annoy the ever-living piss out of you is none other than Jenny McCarthy. I find it suspicious that most of comedic work involves her playing slutty this and promiscuous that. Her only real contribution to the film is a series of jokes related to euphemisms for oral sex. Put THAT on your resume sweetie!

Why I Love It!

I like to play devil’s advocate for the first half of each piece because, well, otherwise you wouldn’t respect me in the morning. But the latter half of the column is where I get really trashy; like Jenny McCarthy trashy. That being the case, allow me to admit that I love low-brow humor and expend more than a few chuckles at the saucy antics of Joe Cooper and Doug Remer. I’m sorry, but this is just a funny movie. Letting Matt and Trey riff off each other while giving them the ammunition of snappy dialogue is pure gold. The gag wherein they keep referring to Squeak as little bitch slays me for some completely inexplicable reason. I love South Park so I’d be a lousy hypocrite if I turned my back on that same brand of humor in live-action form, right? And for all the dick and fart jokes you sit through, you get one burgeoning South Park trope as compensation. Seeing Trey do the Cartman voice is astounding.

In the realm of credit where credit is due, South Park is hardly a one-trick pony. Along with base humor and gross-out gags, it is possibly the most biting social commentary on television. Matt and Trey will go after any person or any subject with fearless abandon and they always seem to deliver just the right punch. For all their juvenile posturing, these are two of the smartest writers around. One thing I honestly and legitimately love about BASEketball is how it works as a commentary on professional sports in general. It opens with a hilarious montage about the ever-devolving purity of any given sport wherein the pursuit of money trumps the pursuit of glory or competitive personal betterment; replete with Riverdance touchdown celebrations. I think my favorite joke, because it’s the most honest, is the map showing all the teams changing cities. The line, “the New Orleans Jazz moved to Utah where they don’t allow music” gets me every time.

The supporting cast of the film is made up almost entirely of fantastic cameos. Say what you want about this being a mediocre comedy, the number of cameos they pull not only from the world of entertainment but of professional sports as well is impressive. The color commentary tandem of Bob Costas and Al Michaels is so good as to make me wonder why these two don’t work together during every game of every sport in real life. Even the Dale Earnhardt appearance is funny, if a little sad. But the one that takes the cake for me is Robert Stack doing his Unsolved Mysteries shtick. If you watched that show as an impressionable youth, like I did, then you know there is nothing scarier than that man’s narration; ergo and conversely nothing funnier than hearing him drop an F bomb and talk about Disney World.

Junkfood Pairing: Cracker Jacks

I’m not sure if it would be more appropriate to select a snack food synonymous with baseball or basketball. But where baseball has both peanuts and Cracker Jacks, basketball has only the taste of Jack Nicholson’s cologne as he sits court-side at the Laker game and obstructs your view to scream nonsensical obscenities at the refs. Also, much as BASEketball is the synergy of two great sports, Cracker Jacks represent the spiritual unity of caramel-covered popcorn and peanuts. I don’t want to live in a world where these two aren’t allowed to be together. See that? A Prop 8 joke for a film that features a sports team called the San Francisco Ferries? America!

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.