Film Discussion

Throwback 20: BASEketball

“Your mom’s going out with…Squeak!”

“Your sister’s going out with…Squeak!”

What’s with all the hate for Squeak Scolari (Dian Bachar)? 20 years ago, the creators of South Park – Trey Parker and Matt Stone – teamed up with Airplane!’s David Zucker, creating an original, but absolutely weird sports comedy: BASEketball – yes, that is how it’s spelt.

In their 20s, hanging out and playing Nintendo, Joe Cooper (Trey Parker) and Doug Remer (Matt Stone) are losers (and Dude Bros before it was a thing). From aspiring to be a big sports star to aspiring to own a big sports bar, the downfall of Joe and his best friend, Doug, is established early on in BASEketball and is an essential foundation of the central characters. But after the on-the-spot creation of a new sports game, a cynical hybrid of basketball and baseball, where a player has to “psyche-out” the opposition player (exampled in the opening of this article), the lives of Joe and Doug are quickly transformed from playing on neighbourhood drives to sports arenas. BASEketball is born.

In establishing this new sport, there is Ted Denslow (The Poseidon Adventure’s Ernest Borgnine), the founder of the NBL – National Baseketball League – and owner of the Milwaukee Beers, featuring Joe “Coop” Cooper and Dough “Sir Swish” Reemer. Also on the team is the extraordinarily unfortunate and, sometimes, comedy sidekick, Squeak “Little Bitch” Scolari. Squeak is almost comparable to a toy when observing how he is treated by Joe and Doug, though he is the glue that just manages to maintain their friendship when villain, rival, and owner of the Dallas Felons, Baxter Cain (Superman III’s Robert Vaughn), sleazes in with suggestions of commercialisation – essentially everything that BASEketball opposes. Though they are on the opposites sides of the morality in professional sports, Joe and Baxter Cain possess the same end game desire: to win the Denslow Cup.

Fun fact: BASEketball presents a tremendous tie-in with the Ska band, Reel Big Fish.

Released around the first year or so of South Park, BASEketball can be read as a quick cashgrab on the popularity of the adult cartoon’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In the years since, BASEketball is undeniably a film of cult status, instead of being a mainstream “90s classic” as such. Even in terms of 90s sports comedies, BASEketball is in a much lower tier when assembled with the likes of Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy and Happy Gilmore. Add Dodgeball, and BASEketball is then of an even lower status. It is fair to suggest that BASEketball is the Goon of the 90s.

As mentioned, BASEketball has aged into a cult film of sorts, but overall has it aged well? When analysing some of its vulgar content, there is no way that BASEketball could be released now without there being riots left, right and centre. Though minimal in its fat-shaming, homophobic jokes, potential transphobia, and sexism, because the content is there, BASEketball is clearly somewhat outdated, but should it just be brushed off as a product of its time? Unfortunately, this can be the case with many mainstream classics and cult classics.

It is inadvisable to pretend that BASEketball or other “outdated” films do not exist. Furthermore, it is additionally inadvisable to punish fans of “outdated” films, simply for their fandom – these said films, like BASEketball, possess a great deal of good that significantly outweigh the bad, but they also possess a great contribution to cinema, whether it be as a mainstream release or eventual cult classic. Every film has its contribution – good or bad – to cinema, and because of that, films should not be denied of their existence, but at least acknowledged.

Ultimately, BASEketball is a fun alternative to the more mainstream and drama-based sports films of the 90s. If anything, even if sports comedies are not within your realm of cinematic pleasure, BASEketball does provide an interesting, comedic spotlight on the creators of South Park and Team America: World Police back when they were fresh from Orgazmo and when each episode of South Park would see Kenny die.  

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