I first saw this movie back in the summer of '77, just before my 9th birthday, and enjoyed it so much that I joined a little league baseball team the following year. That's what this film did for my life.
While people have often criticized this sequel over the absents of both Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal from the original cast. I think the criticism would be an accurate and valid one if this sequel was trying to be something like, "Rocky II", for example. Where the sequel is just a slight variation on the original story, except that the hero (or heroes) win at the end of the movie, instead of lose. But that's NOT what this movie was trying to be.
Instead, "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training" is a road picture at heart. About a group of preteen misfits from the suburbs of Los Angles, California who get swept away by their shared ambitions of playing in the Astrodome in Houston, TX for the National Championship of little league baseball.
Sort of like, "Bless the Beast and Children", meets, "Treasure Island" in the form of a sports movie. Without any pirates or buffalo's serving as metaphors for the doomed spirit of young boys.
But, what I think is a more accurate criticism of this sequel, is that despite the Bears being the West Coast champions at the beginning of the movie, they're apparently a really bad baseball team, who are in desperate need of a decent pitcher.
Twice we see the Bears play baseball prior to the championship game and twice it's like watching the 3-little stooges, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin all on the same baseball team together trying to hit and field a baseball.
That is, until Kelly's long separated father (William Devane) becomes the teams manager shortly after the Bears arrive in Houston. Then, he quickly converts them from a comically bad team into a championship team, after just a few days of practice.
Also, there's the unnecessary family drama conflict at the end of the film between Kelly Leak and his father/team manager which suddenly erupts out of nowhere, for no reason, and feels very forced and too tact on for the audience to empathize with Kelly's sudden outburst of pent-up emotional rage of being abandoned by his father (that everyone likes by now) when he was a very young child.
Then later, in this 70's "Feel Good Summer Sports Movie" - which would eventually become a movie cliché by the mid-80's - all of that sudden serious drama between a divorced father and his abandoned son is all magically resolved by simply winning the big game at the end of the movie.
That's nice, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside at the end too. If only real life was more like that.(sigh)
But, both of those justifiable criticisms of the movie are only a very slight departure from what this movie really excels at in a big way. Which is, creating a huge sense of joy and fun of watching a small band of preteen misfits in their collective pursuit of playing baseball on a national stage, inside the greatest sports stadium in the country and possibly bringing a National Championship back to California with them.
I was with the Bears the entire way through the movie, and I even lived in Texas at the time, and still do.
While I realize that this movie is definitely not for everyone. But, if you were a kid in the 70's, or just want to reconnect with your lost sense of youthful mischief when the world was still just one big adventure? Then this is a must see movie.