"Dude." "Dude." "Dude!" "Dude!" "Dude!!" "Dude!!" "Dude." That's just a sample of the witless wit in BASEketball, which stars Trey Parker and Matt Stone--the creators of Comedy Central's "South Park"--as a couple of...dudes who invent a new sport combining baseball, basketball and the art of trash-talking. As a comedy team, Parker and Stone are a curiously undynamic duo, delivering their lines as if they were reciting from Green Eggs and Ham. Geez, have any of today's young comedians graduated from third grade? Parker and Stone certainly haven't. "South Park," which is basically "Peanuts" plus "Beavis and Butt-head," has become a Fountain of Youth Rebellion for third-graders from 3 to 93. And BASEketball attempts to mix the grade-school humor of Parker and Stone with the middle-school humor of director David Zucker, one of the creators of Airplane!, Top Secret! and the Naked Gun series. I wish I could say the experiment was a success. About the only way the movie passes muster is on the pass/fail system--i.e., it doesn't totally suck. Universal Pictures' publicity machine has gone out of its way to let us know that Zucker, while playing around in his driveway 10 years ago, actually did invent the game of baseketball--a fact that might have impressed me if 1) baseketball were anything more than the game of H-O-R-S-E, complete with psyche-outs, and 2) baseketball could hold a candle to Take-a-Whiffleball, which I invented 30 years ago. (Losers had to inhale an assortment of very bad smells.) In the movie, we're asked to believe that baseketball becomes the latest craze. If so, then I predict that Take-a-Whiffleball will soon be the new national pastime. Posing as a satire on the commercialization of professional sport, BASEketball has trouble keeping its eye on the ball, again and again lapsing into nonsense. It's a formula--gags till you gag--that has worked for Zucker in the past, but now gag-me gags have been added to the equation. When a football team's entire offensive unit gathers in the end zone to perform one of the numbers from "Riverdance," we laugh in recognition of just how far TD showboating has come in the last few years. Then, in the next scene, Stone (who's clearly the dumber in this Dumb and Dumber combo) slurps a drink of water from a gushing bidet. Between the bathroom humor and the locker-room humor, BASEketball barely has time to come up for air. And when it does, it quickly gets bogged down in a tired old plot about baseketball succumbing to the very commercialization it was supposed to eliminate. Of course, the whole movie's built on a false premise, since trash-talking--and we've come a long way from the "hey batter, hey batter" of my day--is the very essence of baseketball. Also, the newfangled National BASEketball League, even before it's gone commercial, features cheerleading squads that make the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders look like a group of unusually flat-chested nuns. You've heard of Tee-Ball?
Now there's T-and-A Ball.