Gordon Bombay is forced to withdraw from the minor hockey league with a knee injury. Much to his surprise, he is given the job of coach of Team USA Hockey for the Junior Goodwill Games in ... See full summary »
A new kid in town is taken under the wing of a young baseball prodigy and his team in this coming of age movie set in the summer of 1962. Together, they get themselves into many adventures involving rival teams, lifeguards, and a vicious dog.
Another Disney underdog sports team of misfit kids (soccer this time) learns to play a new sport and become champions, while building self-esteem, making friends and solving a variety of ... See full summary »
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Jay O. Sanders
12-year-old Henry Rowengartner, whose late father was a minor league baseball player, grew up dreaming of playing baseball, despite his physical shortcomings. Although he's close to his mother Mary, Henry hates Mary's latest boyfriend, Jack Bradfield. After Henry's arm is broken while trying to catch a baseball at school, the tendon in that arm heals too tightly, allowing Henry to throw pitches that are as fast as 103 mph. Henry is spotted at nearby Wrigley Field by Larry "Fish" Fisher, the general manager of the struggling Chicago Cubs, after Henry throws an opponent's home-run ball all the way from the outfield bleachers back to the catcher, and it seems that Henry may be the pitcher that team owner Bob Carson has been praying for. At first, Cubs manager Sal Martinella doesn't like Henry being on the team, but despite the rawness of his talent, Henry revives everyone's team spirit and reignites the enthusiasm of the fans. While money hungry Jack pulls strings behind the scenes to ... Written by
This movie asks the question: "What if pro baseball was fun again, like in little league, and not so taken so seriously?" The device of Henry's miraculous arm allows the story to inject a kid's eye view into a somewhat cynical world. Juxtaposing the sleazy Dan Hedaya's attempted $25 million trade of Henry to the Yankees with the Henry and his buddies taking a day trip on a boat, as well as Henry's adolescent antics on the field, director Daniel Stern is trying to get us to look at baseball, and maybe sports, maybe life, like we did when we were ten.
I think Roger Ebert, although I agree with his review, took pretty poor notes while reviewing this film. From his article: "When the cast comes off, his dad takes him to Wrigley Field, and he catches a home run ball while he's out in the bleachers, and then he throws it back - all the way to the catcher behind the plate." Actually, he went with his friends, he doesn't even know his dad. And he didn't catch it, his friends pick it up from nearby, and hand it to him because they're scared to throw it on TV and embarrass themselves. Doesn't he have a fact-checker to proof his reviews?
Second, he writes: "Henry becomes an overnight celebrity, and is signed to the Cubs by the team's genial owner." This ignores the desperation of Dan Hedaya, the would-be owner of the team, who sees the publicity and marketing windfall in having a kid on the team. The sell-out crowd is an important story element, as it reinforces the idea that we are all hungry for baseball to be fun again.
There's are lots of laughs to be had in this film, although Stern seems to want to indulge in over-the-top hysterics from time to time, such as with the character he was playing. Also, the bilious "Jack" who gets Henry's mom to sign a contract without telling her it's a trade to NY, is downright spastic in his final scene. Stern shows a lot of promise as a comedy director if he could tone it down just a touch with the tangential characters. Understatement can be funny, as Busey shows with a few choice glares at the right moments. I loved Stern's allusion to the Wizard of Oz, likening the Emerald City gates to the Wrigley stadium gates, when Henry first arrives to play.
The Cubs haven't won a Series since 1909. "And a little child shall lead them..." Every kid should see this movie.
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