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Film review: 'Major League'

20 April 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

After the major misfire of a sequel that was 1994's "Major League II", you'd think that any subsequent attempt, no matter how misguided, would have to look better by comparison.

You'd think.

But even a decent ump would be hard-pressed to make that call with the arrival of "Major League: Back to the Minors," a bland, poorly paced effort that takes its regressive title to heart.

A very pale imitation of the lively -- if never exactly inspired -- original, this third and likely final outing takes a half-hearted swing and fails to make any contact.

Final attendance figures will be disappointing, though series fans might take their chances during video postseason play.

While Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger have long since hung up their cleats, Corbin Bernsen returns as Roger Dorn. Currently the owner of the Minnesota Twins, Dorn is looking for someone to manage his farm team, the South Carolina Buzz; that someone turns out to be burnt-out minor league pitcher Gus Cantrell (Scott Bakula).

Reluctantly, Gus takes the gig, only to find out that the triple-A team might as well be called the Bad News Bores. A decidedly motley crew with a lousy attitude, the Buzz might appear as a hopeless task to some, but not to Cantrell, who knows a thing or two about never saying never.

Not only does he put the team back in the winning column, but a personal feud with vain, smug Twins manager Leonard Huff (Ted McGinley) leads to a minor league-major league grudge match with entirely predictable results.

As written and directed by John Warren, the picture goes through its generic paces with a scarcity of spark and spirit. It would have done well to take heed of one of Cantrell's pep talks.

The cast does the best it can with what it was given. Bakula, saddled with a tired, screen-cliche of a character, nevertheless conveys an easygoing amiability, as does Bernsen, for the little time he's onscreen.

"Married ... With Children" vet McGinley plays his adversarial part with the requisite broad strokes, while Dennis Haysbert (as Cuban voodoo outfielder Pedro Cerrano), Takaaki Ishibashi (as highly spiritual teammate Taka Tanaka) and Bob Uecker (as enthusiastic play-by-play man Harry Doyle) all return for more of the same.

Handed the token female role of Bakula's girlfriend, Jensen Daggett ("The Single Guy") fulfills her character demands by always looking pretty and supportive.

***MAJOR LEAGUE: BACK TO THE MINORS

Warner Bros.

James Robinson presents

a Morgan Creek production

Director-screenwriter: John Warren

Producer: James G. Robinson

Executive producers: Michael Rachmil,

Gary Barber, Bill Todman Jr.

Director of photography: Tim Suhrstedt

Editors: O. Nicholas Brown, Bryan H. Carroll

Music: Robert Folk

Color/stereo

Cast:

Gus Cantrell: Scott Bakula

Roger Dorn: Corbin Bernsen

Pedro Cerrano: Dennis Haysbert

Taka Tanaka: Takaaki Ishibashi

Maggie Reynolds: Jensen Daggett

Rube Baker: Eric Bruskotter

Harry Doyle: Bob Uecker

Leonard Huff: Ted McGinley

Running time -- 100 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

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