Baseketball review

Somehow it seems important to point out that BASEketball is based on a true story. Back in the '80s, Airplane! director David Zucker invented a sport blending basketball's least athletic discipline (shooting) with the statistical tedium of baseball. It quickly became a local cult. (In fact, the first regional final is lovingly recreated near the beginning of the movie.)

It's after this, however, that fact becomes fiction: in BASEketball, the sport goes on to be a national sensation, its inventors are transformed into big stars and a rosy future seems assured. But then a combination of a scoundrel called Cain (Vaughn), a girl named Jenna (Bleeth) and the lure of filthy lucre threaten to break up the winning team. Oh, and there's a good few knob gags thrown in too.

For those who have been tuned to Channel 4 during the past few months, Parker and Stone are the resident lunatics behind the animated mayhem of South Park, although they were cast back in the days when Kenny was able to walk the streets without fear of being brutally murdered. The duo's presence is the key factor in making BASEketball hit the Zucker-high of Airplane! rather than the laugh-free low of the director's more recent High School High. They do a decent Dumb&Dumber routine, but it's their quest for the deeply sick which bolsters Zucker's innate sense of silliness.

While the cartoon-kid tormenting pair receive no official writing credit for BASEketball, the South Park spirit is prominent throughout. Indeed, Zucker has been quick to point out that Parker and Stone inspired him to "even higher levels". And he's right. The Police Squad creator hasn't made anything this tasteless and juvenile since The Kentucky Fried Movie, when Zucker was a tasteless juvenile himself. Leslie Nielsen would blush at the talk here.

That the hit/miss gag ratio stays safely in the comfort zone is largely down to the primary defensive tactic in BASEketball: the 'psyche-out.' When defending your basket from your opponent, anything goes: you can insult his mother, puke on his shirt or cut off your finger. Or you could always get really gross, which is exactly what Coop and Remer do. As a stand-by gag in a sick-puppy comedy, the psyche-out is where Parker and Stone come into their own.

Of course, there's still a whole barrage of misfires here - Jenny McCarthy for one - and a degree in American sports is needed to decipher many of the jokes. You also get the feeling that Parker and Stone have been held back slightly, as if this represents a compromise which keeps them from plunging into the tasteless depths of South Park. Nevertheless, so long as you're easily amused and enjoy being offended, BASEketball will deliver both laughs and retches. In spades.

Juvenile, puerile and occasionally inspired, the sport-fusing, guffaw-inducing BASEketball is even funnier than Godzilla. Despite a number of obscure sporty references, this is definitely one for South Park fanatics.

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