A film that you will enjoy if you are a baseball fan as it is your typical sports movie. However, if baseball is not your thing, I would not recommend this film.WARNING - In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.
This is not a serious film. It skirts the issues of adult pressure on young players and political correctness about player eligibility. Even though these issues are touched on, it would have been nice to see them dealt with more completely within the comedic tone of the entire film.
The major weakness in this film is its predictable plot. Thorton’s character, Morris Buttermaker, is an active alcoholic. Besides being an alcoholic, he works as a pest remover (and not a very good one at that). Buttermaker has been asked to coach a hopeless youth baseball team. They are so bad that they risk losing their eligibility to play in the league. The age of the players is around 12. Of course the team does well in the end, and all ends happily.
The film has the stock plot element of the player who is found, and who is so good, that this player will be the factor that wins the game. However, this is realistic, hence the concept of the most valuable player in real life sports.
In spite of this stock idea it is fun to see the moment when the new recruited pitcher (a girl who no one expects to be good) throws a heater (fast-ball) to the catcher and we see the total surprise on his face.
The story is also one of redemption – the redemption of Thorton’s character. This comes out quite strongly in the end of the film. Unfortunately, the redemption theme is spoiled because it is part of the predictable plot.
The love interest is what one would expect in such a movie. (Though I admit I wouldn’t mind seeing a film like this without a love interest for once.) I did enjoy the bit where Thorton is in the woman’s house and her son runs into him in the hall. The excuse he comes up with (that he has come to the house to tell the boy to remember to oil his glove) is well done.
The movie did stick with baseball elements and did not divert too much from that. This gave a good balance between the baseball scenes and the other scenes. The baseball games were exciting and well choreographed.
The ending did not disappoint. The team does not win the championship, but becomes a respectable team in the league. (In the credits, the team is shown as eventually winning a trophy.) In a sports movie, it used to be almost taken for granted that the team making the comeback wins. Lately, this has not been happening in some sports movies, and I think this is a good thing as it shows writers and directors are trying to be more realistic. (In real life, the underdog team does not always make the scoring run, or winning basket.)Not a movie to see unless you love baseball.