BASEketball - * * 1/2*


The first film to take advantage of the South Park craze has hit the big screens. Starring the creators of Comedy Central’s crudely funny animated show, BASEketball is a hamhanded attempt to merge their brand of offbeat insult humor with the zany gags that have been a trademark of director David Zucker. Surprisingly, the alliance actually works, creating a movie that, while not for all tastes, has moments of genuine hilarity.

The new sport baseketball gets its start as the brainchild of two friends, Coop (Trey Parker), and Remer (Matt Stone). Making up rules on the spot, the two merge baseball and basketball, removing all sense of athleticism while adding a heaping dose of trash talking. The end result is enjoyed by Coop and Remer and several of their neighbors, including Kenny “Squeak” Scolari (Dian Bachar).

However, things take off when the wealthy Theodore Denslow (Ernest Borgnine), enjoying the freshness and innocence of the new sport, creates a national league. Within five years, the new sport has become a national craze, but can it live up to its idealism?

One man, owner Baxter Cain (Robert Vaughn), seeks to spoil the sport. Will his desire for higher profits lead to the corruption and downfall of baseketball? And can Theodore Denslow’s trophy wife, Yvette (Jenny McCarthy), be up to any good? At least Coop & Remer’s love interest, Jenna (Yasmine Bleeth), seems to be on the side of goodwill…or is she?

Fans of South Park are obviously the film’s intended primary audience, and said fans are likely to have a blast here. (Though, the film only resorts to using South Park voices twice.) However, if the South Park brand humor doesn’t particularly strike your fancy, BASEketball isn’t likely to convert you.

The film expends most of its gags on its insult humor, applied when the teams attempt to “psych out” their opponents. The result is a mixed bag, with some of the psych-outs being genuinely funny, others landing with a dull thud. The film is actually better when it aims its comical eye elsewhere: such as at the excesses of pro sports.

The film’s plot is a letdown, constructed merely as a loose framework for gags and jokes. There’s hardly an unanticipated step in the film. Even in the sporting scenes, you never are made to care who wins or loses… it’s all done for the gags.

Vulgar and gross, the film never rises above low comedy. But at times, the low comedy really shines. It’s never as consistent as There’s Something About Mary, and its laughs are rarely as intense, but it does have its fair share of them.

BASEketball should please it’s target audience. If simply hearing about this film makes you want to go see it, then this is likely for you. For those with second thoughts, this one can easily wait until video.

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