Bad News Bears is one of the most delightful blends of family and adult entertainment ever made. The underdog-made-good story may please and kids in the audience, but it's only one facet of the film's entertaining, realistic portrait of little league baseball. The real appeal comes from spot-on performances by Tatum O'Neal and Walter Matthau. Their relationship, as a grizzled divorcé and the pubescent girl trying to make him her father, is finely tuned and immensely enjoyable. Their natural stubbornness yet vulnerability comes through, helping to keep the story out of the realm of the sentimental. The entire script, by Bill Lancaster, is full of authenticity, capturing both the different personalities of the kids and the often embarrassing and bizarre world of Little League. Director Michael Ritchie achieves all of the story's drama without losing any of the innocence of the youngsters. Considering that his three previous films (Prime Cut, The Candidate, and Smile) were all distinctly adult fare, Bad News Bears was a surprising movie from Ritchie. But he brings his mature sensibility to his characters, never expecting them to be perfect but never judging them either.