Hey there, Drinkers!
Toda’s combo is all about celebrating the underdog. And nothing says underdog more than a sports movie. With that in mind, today we’re pairing Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager with the 1976 kid’s (but not too childish) sports film The Bad News Bears. I’ll try my best to stay away from baseball puns or decrying any situation as being “bad news bears” for the duration of the post, but I make no promises…since the only thing that was foul about this BAAM were the balls.
….am I trying too hard?
Anyway let’s get into it. In 1976, super actor Walter Matthau appeared in the bizarrely offensive-yet-heartwarming film The Bad News Bears. The film charts the efforts of Matthau’s perpetually drunk Coach Buttermaker as he trains a band of young misfit players known as the Bears. What today would be a movie filled with shenanaginry and lessons in teamwork, the original Bad News Bears is more of a lesson in adult-depression with hints of light child-abuse. Featuring the most inappropriate language you’ll ever hear a nine year-old say and plenty of underage drinking and smoking (all tolerated/enabled by adults), The Bad News Bears is kind of movie you can’t believe got made. With our modern sensibilities, this film is supremely inappropriate and offensive. And yes, that does provide some of the charm for today’s viewers but it also makes me a little happy that we largely don’t talk and act like we used to.
And as absurd as this movie is, there are two key elements I want to point out that I think are actually worth discussing. The first is how the film uses the Bears’ struggle for the pennant as a parallel for the coaches own sad lives. Buttermaker and his rival coach project their own failures as men onto their teams, hoping that a win will somehow redeem them. For Buttermaker, it’s a chance to a show the rest of the town that he isn’t just a drunk pool-cleaner. For the Yankees coach, the ferocity with which he leads the team is a nice reflection of his failures as a father. All of this is nicely evident during the final, championship game. It’s not very subtle, but it’s an unexpected nuance from this silly comedy.
The second point I’d like to briefly discuss is how there are very few consequences for characters’ bad behavior. The most obvious example of this is Buttermaker himself. This chain-smoking alcoholic does everything to make his team hate him, and yet love him without reservation. Maybe it’s because he’s the most real and honest adult in their lives. Despite managing to alienate almost everyone on his team, and verbally (and emotionally) abusing his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, he has a knack for cutting through the B.S. of youth sports. He tells kids to shut up, try hard and win. No sugar-coating and few kind words. And while he’s not exactly a role-model, he does have a few redemptive moments. But by and large, all the terrible things he does are pretty quickly forgiving with little-to-no discussion. I think this is mostly a result of quick story-telling but it’s just something to think about while watching this film.
Also, a young Tatum O’Neal and Jackie Earle Haley grace the screen, so that’s cool.
And fitting with our underdog movie, I popped open a bottle of Flying Dog Brewery’s Underdog Atlantic Lager. I don’t typically drink lagers and I think this was only the second beer I’ve had from Flying Dog (I usually go for their delicious and awkward-to-order Raging Bitch IPA) so this was a nice little experiment for me. Typically, I find lagers to be too light and straightforward in flavor for my tastes. And while the Underdog wasn’t a bad beer, I feel like it sadly fell into this category. Pouring a very light, clear color with a rapidly dissipating head, I found this beer to be refreshing but largely unconvincing. The mild notes of grain, fruit and hops hard to notice and did little to liven up the beer. This might all be a result of my general dismissal of the lager style, because clearly the Underdog stands above most common lagers on the American market. But for me, when I drink a beer, I want something that excites my palette and brings me back in for another sip.
So there you have it folks! Lots of beer for today’s combo. Albeit mostly on screen and occasionally in the hands of children, but a beer-y night nonethless. And while, in my opinion, I found the beer to be a little lacking, the movie was just what I needed to lift my spirits. It warmed my heart, it made me smile and I made me thankful that kids today are not as overtly racist. Small blessings.
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager:
-Clean, golden pour
-Largely uncomplicated lager
The Bad News Bears:
-Walter Matthau is a great alcoholic
-Kids curse! Drink! Smoke!
-Actually nuanced story under its absurdity