Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Zucker Produced by Cleve Landsberg
Written by David Zucker
Narrated by Stephen McHattie Starring Trey Parker
Music by James Ira Newborn Cinematography Steve Mason Editing by Jeffrey Reiner Distributed by Universal Pictures Release date(s) United States/Canada
July 31, 1998
Running time 108 minutes Country United States Language English Box office $7,027,290
BASEketball is a 1998 American David Zucker comedy starring South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Dian Bachar, Robert Vaughn, Ernest Borgnine, Yasmine Bleeth, and Jenny McCarthy. The movie follows the history of the sport (created by Zucker years earlier) of the same name, from its invention by the lead characters as a game they could win against more athletic types, to its development as a nationwide league sport and a target of corporate sponsorship. This is the only work involving Parker and Stone that was neither written, directed, or produced by them.
At Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Joe "Coop" Cooper catches Reggie Jackson's third home run in the stands and proclaims to his best friend, Doug Remer, that "One day, I'm gonna be a big sports star."
16 years later, Coop (Trey Parker) and Remer (Matt Stone) are 23 and unemployed and about to have their gas shut off. They arrive uninvited at a party hosted by a former high school classmate of theirs. After finding out that their classmates have grown up and moved on with their lives, Coop and Remer find themselves outside drinking beer and shooting hoops on the driveway basketball court. There, two other former classmates challenge them to a game. The two see that their opponents are very good at basketball, so they say they will only play a new game they picked up "in the hood". Clearly making this new game up as they go, Coop originally proposes the game Horse, but changes it to basketball with baseball rules: shots made from different locations count as singles, doubles, triples, and home runs, and missed shots count as outs. During the challenger's first shot, Coop "psyches" him out to make him miss; this is another rule made up on the spot. A "psyche out" can be anything said or done that makes the offense lose their concentration and miss their shot. Coop and Remer continue playing their new game, "BASEketball," and add a third member to their team, Kenny "Squeak" Scolari (Dian Bachar).
Six months later, people come from miles around to watch them play the game they created against other neighborhood teams. Ted Denslow (Ernest Borgnine) shows up to propose creation of the National BASEketball League (NBL), with numerous rules in place to prevent the sport from deteriorating as other sports had done: teams cannot switch cities, players cannot be traded, and individuals cannot make money via corporate sponsorship deals.
Five years after creation of the league, the NBL is in full swing with stadiums, teams, fans, and a major championship (the Denslow Cup). During the 1997 championship, Denslow, who is the owner of the Milwaukee Beers for whom Coop and Remer both play, chokes on a hot dog and dies. Denslow's will grants Coop ownership of the Beers for one year; if they do not win the next Denslow Cup, ownership reverts to Denslow's widow Yvette (Jenny McCarthy).
The owner of the Dallas Felons, Baxter Cain (Robert Vaughn), wants to change the league rules to allow teams to move cities and players to switch teams, but could not accomplish this while Denslow was alive. Yvette would have been willing to comply had she been given ownership of the team, but Coop refuses to accept any of the proposed changes. Cain and Yvette work together to make sure the Beers will lose the next Denslow Cup and Yvette will win ownership of the team.
In a private conversation at Cain's office, Cain tells Remer that Coop has said no to Cain's plans without talking to the other members of the Beers. Remer then goes to the Beers behind Coop's back and tells the team what he learned from Cain. After Remer and the other members of the Beers confront him, Coop agrees to split all decisionmaking with Remer and the team. The team continues to agree that the rules should not be changed. Coop also seemingly enters into a relationship with Jenna, despite Remer's attempts to get between them.
Cain cuts the funds to Jenna's foundation, forcing Coop and Remer to ask Cain for help. Cain suggests creating a clothing line and sending the proceeds to her foundation. Coop is entirely against it, but Remer, as part team owner, immediately agrees, and becomes so obsessed with his newfound fame that he alienates Coop. After they win the league semifinals, Cain informs Coop and Remer through photos that their clothing line has been produced through child labor in Calcutta. If the public learns about it, the team and Jenna's foundation will be ruined. Cain threatens to show the photos to the public unless Coop and Remer lose or skip the Denslow Cup game. Jenna learns about the child labor scandal and breaks it off with Coop. Coop blames Remer for the mess and they have a falling out, and Coop decides to go to Calcutta to resolve the situation.
Coop replaces all the child workers in the factory with adult workers and makes it back just as the fifth annual Denslow Cup begins. The Beers start with an abysmal performance, failing to make one hit in six innings. At the seventh-inning stretch, the Beers are down 16–0. After a moving speech from Squeak, Coop and Remer reconcile their differences and Yvette breaks off her alliance with Cain. Coop, Remer, and Squeak finally get back into the game and start scoring.
In the bottom of the ninth, Remer is on second, Squeak is on third, and Coop is up when his custom-made BASEketball (La-Z-Boy) pops. Joey brings Coop a new custom-made BASEketball made from a Barcalounger. Coop misses, but successfully completes the conversion, which is considered a home run for the win and the Denslow Cup. He meets Reggie Jackson after the game, who wishes him luck in the next season. Coop and Jenna reunite while Remer hooks up with Yvette, as the team happily carries Squeak on the Denslow Cup.
Cameo appearances as themselves:
All of the teams represent stereotypes and include references to their respective areas:
- Milwaukee Beers
- Reference to the numerous local beer breweries and the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team; the fans wear beer mug "foam heads" and perform "the chug" (similar to the "tomahawk chop" used by the Florida State Seminoles and Atlanta Braves). Their mascot is a walking keg of beer (who can use his "tap" to urinate).
- Dallas Felons
- Huge muscle types who are probably ex-convicts (a reference to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, a team on which numerous players had legal problems in the mid-1990s). Their owner, Baxter Cain (Vaughn) is based on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The team has cheerleaders dressed in black leather dominatrix outfits.
- Miami Dealers
- The players appear to be Cuban drug dealers. Note the chainsaw wielding man on the back of their jersey reminiscent of Scarface. One of the players ran away because Coop was wearing a DEA jacket with the logo facing him.
- New Jersey Informants
- The players are Italian-American stereotypes (one of their failed psych-outs was "Your mother's a terrible cook"); their cheerleaders all have perms and also perform some Italian hand gestures. Features Greg Grunberg, of subsequent Heroes fame.
- San Francisco Ferries
- The players wear white and pastel pink uniforms, and have the only all-male cheerleader squad in the league. The word "Ferries" is meant to be a play on "fairies", a slang term sometimes used to refer to male homosexuals.
- Roswell Aliens
- Reference to the location where a UFO supposedly crashed and the surrounding conspiracies; the team has an alien mascot, an arena shaped to look like a flying saucer, and an "Anal Probe Night" promotion.
- L.A. Riots
- Reference to the 1992 Los Angeles/Rodney King riots (and possibly Watts riots); the players appear to be angry Latinos and African-Americans. Their cheerleaders perform on stripper poles.
- San Antonio Defenders
- Rednecks, their home field includes a giant recreation of the Alamo Mission. The cheerleaders all wear Davy Crockett hats and revealing attire.
- Detroit Lemons
- Reference to the home of American auto makers.
When the league began to spin out of control, it was supposedly inundated with expansion teams. During the scene describing the extremely complex playoff system (complete with "a blind-choice round robin" and "the two-man sack race held on consecutive Sundays"), references were made to teams in Boston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Oakland, Toronto, Tampa, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver. No nicknames or mascots were given for these.
Some teams on the bracket behind Kenny Mayne and Dan Patrick can also be made out if a viewer looks closely, adding even more cities, not all of which make sense. These include New York, Cleveland, Sacramento, Pasadena, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Green Bay, St. Paul, Anaheim, Salem, Burbank, Morgantown, Tucson, Phoenix, Jackson, Tulsa, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Chicago, San Diego, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Lincoln, Knoxville, Memphis, Baltimore and Cairo. It appears there is also a Hawaiian Division, which included Oahu, Maui and a team named "Volcano".
BASEketball was released to mixed reviews, earning 41 percent approval from 49 critics on review-aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes and garnering a score of 38 out of 100 from 18 critics on Metacritic.
Yasmine Bleeth and Jenny McCarthy were given nominations at the 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress respectively for their performances in BASEketball, but did not "win".
The soundtrack featured a bouncy ska cover of Norwegian band a-ha's signature single "Take on Me" by Reel Big Fish. The band also appears as the live entertainment at the home stadium of the Milwaukee Beers, playing "Take on Me" and several of their other songs.
- BASEketball at the Internet Movie Database
- BASEketball at AllRovi
- BASEketball at Box Office Mojo
- BASEketball at Rotten Tomatoes
Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker Collaborative works David Zucker films Jim Abrahams films Jerry Zucker films Trey Parker and Matt Stone Films Television Shorts Music Theater
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