An aimless young man who is scalping tickets, gambling, and drinking, agrees to coach a Little League team from the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago as a condition of getting a loan from a friend.
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Keenen Ivory Wayans
Keenen Ivory Wayans,
Charles S. Dutton,
Jada Pinkett Smith
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An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.
Craigus R. Johnson,
Bright, educated, handsome Conor O'Neill's promising future was wrecked by his gambling addiction, which dragged him into heavy drinking and petty crime, but worst of all, the stifling grip of loan-shark bookies. Desperate for a loan, he agrees to stand in for lawyer friend Jimmy Fleming as coach of a Chicago ghetto Little League baseball team. His sense of pride, becoming the boys' sole idol, and competition, plus their attractive teacher, motivate Conor. But the crushing loan problem rather requires leaving town. Written by
Predictable but an A+ nonetheless. Parental slant to review-
Tonight I attended a sneak preview of the movie Hardball with a 10 year old boy in tow. Hardball shows the very gritty, dangerous life of some inner city kids who are not only trying to survive, but to find some-thing worth caring about- in this case, baseball.
Though not playing to a sold out house, the audience was very loud and enthusiastic, even breaking into cheers at points. I thought the storyline was predictable (bum coach becomes a better man and gets the girl, kids learn teamwork and sportsmanship) and similar to other movies about kids sports teams. What is unique to this movie is it's view of the kids off the field- their lives in housing projects, the dangers, drugs and problems they face just living every day. It's a daring and very affecting storyline, and the cheering of the audience proved to me that it worked very, very well.
Very solid jobs by cast, including Keanu Reeves, who does a fabulous job as the shiftless/compulsive gambler/reluctant coach who becomes much more to his team after realizing these kids actually have a rougher life than his own. This role seemed as well-suited for Reeves as The Matrix...and he didn't even look good doing it. [He does clean up and flash the famous smile near the end!]
The kids steal the show here- and the audience I sat with fell for them as hard as their coach did! Lots of sniffling and clapping in the house. My son loved the movie, too, the moral themes are well wrapped up in the story and not sappy.
Some rough language, disturbing scenes of housing project life and the gambling/bookie world, some sexual references, one death. However, I would grab the kids and go if over first grade. Good opportunity to talk to the kids about winning/losing, drugs, violence and education. Best see it with your boys film since the Mighty Titans scored a touchdown. You may want to go again...
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