Directed by Charles Stone III
Written by Eric Champnella, Keith Mitchell and Howard Michael Gould
Starring Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Michael Rispoli
Sometimes numbers lie. Star ball player Stan Ross, portrayed by Bernie Mac, has amassed 3,000 base hits, an accomplishment that guarantees his status as a "certified immortal." Or so he believes.
Everything about baseball is numerated, from singles to doubles to triples, from uniform numbers to endless reams of statistics and percentages. It certainly doesn't take us long to get Ross's number: He is flamboyant and self-centred; glib and stylin'. His like is recognizable, and currently rampant -- not only in baseball, but in all major league sports and beyond.
If the role of Ross was not written for Mac (star of the TV comedy The Bernie Mac Show), it was certainly tailored for him. Just as a champion athlete carries a team on his back, Mac carries the film. Capable supporting actors (Michael Rispoli as his straight-man and sounding board; Angela Bassett as Mo, the slightly over-the-hill ESPN reporter and love interest) grab hold of Mac and hang on. (To clarify, Mo's over-the-hillness applies to her job. As a love interest, she's prime time.)
Mac excels as the centre of attention, as does his character Ross. Ross charms and scowls, clearly loving himself even as few others do. Upon reaching his goal of 3,000 hits, and after rudely snatching the famous baseball from the hands of a child in the stands, he promptly announces his retirement, abandoning his teammates even though the squad is in the middle of a pennant race.
The boorish ex-ballplayer goes about his business, making a franchise out of a statistical achievement -- his Mr. 3,000 Plaza holds a pub (3,000 Beers), a hairstyling salon (3,000 Cuts), and so on. His commercial interests prosper. All that is left for Ross is his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Then the plot happens. Due to an error in compilation, it turns out that Ross was miscredited three hits.
Robbed of his legacy -- Mr. 2997 hasn't much of a ring to it -- Ross sets out to get it back, mounting an improbable comeback at age 47, nine years out of the game.
Predictable hilarity ensues, as the out-of-shape Ross strives to reach a level of fitness that will allow him to get the three hits. He returns to his old team, the Milwaukee Brewers, a sorry collection of uninterested bit players and one self-important superstar who reminds us of a younger Ross.
While struggling to earn hit number 3,000 once again, Ross learns things about baseball and about himself: that nothing is guaranteed, that time marches on. As for numbers, the former Wizard of Wood, a notorious stick-swinger in his prime, realizes that one (as in one woman), beats two or seven or even 17.
Entertaining and swift, Mr. 3,000 thrives on the star's comedic prowess. Stan Ross may or may not reach his goal of 3,000, but it is likely that Mac has a hit on his hands.