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Hard Ball
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Reviews & Ratings for
Hard Ball More at IMDbPro »

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40 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Much better than I expected

Author: Theoriginaltruebrit from North Carolina originally England
8 March 2002

Due to alot of negative reviews on this site I did not expect the movie to be as good as it was. However after watching it this evening I was delighted by the entire experience. While I agree that it goes along with the "ducks" formula it deviates from it by not showing us the final game with the final ten seconds for the team to win. It spared us that and just let us know with the final credits that the team won. I thought the performances in the movie were excellent, although even I (living here in the deep south) found the accents of the children a little difficult to comprehend. As for the overall effect of the movie it entranced me, completely, I kept having to rewind scenes to view them again and again. And, more importantly, if anyone ever doubted Keanu's ability to act then one should only view the eulogy scene to know that his critics have been simply barking up the wrong tree. Strong, emotional, sympathetic and completely believable... speaking as as part time amateur actress, do you know how hard it is to cry, and cry believably? Do you know how hard it is to make your chin tremble..? My conversion to Mel Gibson fan was watching him "cry" in Lethal Weapon... this has been my reconversion to Keanu fan..., to cry so believably in a movie is worth quids in my book and to be able to express emotion in such a way is worth any amount of praise. Wonderful movie. Go see it.

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40 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Wow.

9/10
Author: Darguz from Battle Creek, MI
26 October 2003

It never ceases to amaze me how people can have such widely differing *strong* reactions to a film. A number of negative reviews here, but let me add one more positive.

I loved this film, from beginning to end. I loved every aspect of it: the story, the acting, the plot. I expected just another "Coach takes over losing team and makes them winners" story. Those are fine stories now and then, and I was not expecting anything more than mild entertainment. But this film moved me. Now, I'm a middle-aged white boy, and while I've never been rich I've never gone hungry either, and I've never had to worry about getting shot on the way home, so maybe I don't really know what that "sh*t" is all about and maybe this film wasn't "realistic" in portraying all that; but it communicated to me, and that's what any film is all about. And sometimes in order to communicate, you have to go half way between where you are and where the other person is, and maybe that's what this film did. But whatever, I got it.

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31 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Hope is always the better choice

9/10
Author: Abby-9 from United States
17 September 2001

This is a stressful movie, with the gambling addiction and the gambling machine on one hand, and street gangs on the other. I really like the kids and think Keanu Reeves plays it straight with them. New York Times and local reviewers aside--way aside, this movie is definitely worth a look. I spent eight years on Chicago's South Side, and i'm grateful a cinema team is willing to show some emotion about some of the stuff that is part of grim daily life. The plot formula is good: i don't like cold voyeuristic slice-of-life with this material. I like that the material is used with an up-beat ending. Let us enjoy the entertainment of it, and find some hope in it. Goethe said that hope is always the better choice. And i will say it here: Keanu Reeves can act.

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27 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Kids May Gain From Seeing This Movie?

8/10
Author: Daniel Branch from Philly
29 June 2003

When I first saw this movie, I watched it with my daughter who was 10 years old at the time. The language was kind of edgy but not too serious. I'm sure she hears worst from her friends at school (even though we try to ignore those facts). This flick had it all. From the coach struggling with his own morality, vices and (of course) romance, to the kids plagued by the daily atrocities of their neighborhood. Through these tribulations, however, we learn that "showing up" (coined from the movie) was the best way to face and overcome our problems. This applies to all of us across the board.

I read a few reviews that discouraged kids from seeing this movie and I wholeheartedly disagree. Why can we let our kids watch The Bad News Bears and The Mighty Ducks but discard a movie that gives us a taste of the reality of our inner city youth whom want to play "Hardball"? Yes they spoke more freely with there swearing than a kid from the burbs. But isn't that the point? They're not from the burbs. Yes there was a shooting scene but you didn't actually see the shot hit. But it's ok for our kids to see the Matrix where people are getting shot left and right. sheez. I hope that one day America can stop hiding the inner city from their kids and let them know how their less fortunate counterparts living (and dying). Maybe they will take less for granted and appreciate their situation more after seeing this flick. Maybe they will want to help solve some of the problems when they get older except ignoring them like their parents are doing because their parents sheltered them from the same things in the 70's & 80's. I'm not trying to sell this movie by saying it's going to change any social order or make your kid a better person. What I'm saying is... Let them watch it, talk about it and "YOU" will make your kid a better person through your dialogue and time. This movie is just to supplement your efforts.

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24 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A little miracle of a movie: moving, realistic anduplifting

10/10
Author: wrygrass (wrygrass@hotmail.com) from Washington State
9 September 2001

This film portrays the life of a group of boys who play one summer on a baseball league organized in the projects in Chicago. With out flinching an iota in portraying the material decay and the real fear of violence that permeates its setting, the film still shows the beauty of life--the importance of "just showing up" and trying. The young, unknown boys give outstanding performances which are matched by a moving performance by Keanu Reeves. Reeves, in his most emotive performance to-date, plays the team's coach who is redeemed by his contact with the kids, by simply learning to care about someone besides himself. Definitely NOT the "Bad News Bears," but a great movie experience for everyone--sports lovers or not.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

good movie, good movie.

8/10
Author: thrillhouse678 from United States
16 September 2001

this movie was good. the little kids were funny, keanu reeves was pretty cool. i also saw on the news the night before i went to go see this movie that there was some big black guy whining about the language used by the kids. he said that it was a "poor and grim representation of america's preseption of inner city children." um..im wondering if this man even HAS kids of his own, and if he does, he should hang out with them more often. the language of the kids was strong, but if u mean to tell me that the majority of kids living in the projects, or ANYWHERE ELSE for that matter, don't use that kind of language, get your head examined. anyway, this was a good movie and i enjoyed it.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Rough head white guy coaches little black kids in Chicago baseball. Very effectively made with some tough bits that are well above average. 4 Flys Out Of Five

Author: Steve Baker (s.baker@iig.com.au) from Cairns Australia
19 June 2002

In spite of its rather predictable set up Hardball is remarkably effective. It's a terrific example of a mainstream film that squeezes itself sufficiently out of the comfort zone to be both thought provoking and moving without too often lapsing into the triteness we see so often.

Hardball is yet another genre movie about a desperate white guy (Keanu Reeves) forced into coaching a children's sporting team from a rough black neighbourhood. Does he coach a mob of losers to victory? Does he mature while he does the job? Do the children gain valuable insights from their new friend? Does a love interest hover for our desperado coach?

The first third of Hardball shows us Conor O'Neill (Keanu Reeves) in the throws of digging an even deeper hole for himself with bad bets. He's literally on the run from his creditors and is frantic to get one big win to get the ghouls off his back.

We've seen that thousands of times before on T.V. and film but Hardball worked the trick beautifully. A baseball bat smashing a hole in a wall, where a head was a few moments before, can be extraordinarily effective cinema if done right. I was sold. O'Neill's gambling mate Ticky, played by character actor John Hawkes, has a bit of Steve Buscemi look about him and that has to be a recommendation.

Then we meet the children. The film is set in the notorious Cabrini-Green area of Chicago, a high rise low income housing area which is being progressively torn down. Cabrini-Green is now under redevolopment in what's a bold mixed income experiment, incorporating low/no-income citizens into what an area that was always surrounded by prime real estate.

The children are tough talking 13 year olds, but we're soon shown that they're very frightened. Hardball shows their world as being one where they are rightfully scared to be out after dark. One where people sit on the floor in their high rise for fear of bullets coming in through the windows. Again it was very effective film making.

The baseball is little league stuff in every sense of the word. The coach doesn't seem to know much about baseball and his charges, strangely, instantly improve their game on his arrival. There's the designated tear jerking triumphs and I'm sufficiently chump enough to have been sold on that too!

The token woman is provided by Diane Lane and she's O.K. but that whole plot line could and probably should have been left out. But Hardball was strong cinematic fare and well worth a look.

4 Sporting Flys Out Of Five

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Not original, but it works

7/10
Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
22 June 2005

I want to start by saying that this movie was actually a pleasant surprise. Knowing that this was a movie based on a true story, made with Keanu Reeves and a lot of kid-actors in it, I honestly feared the worst. But after watching it I must say that it really wasn't all that bad.

Sure, the story is as predictable as you can get them in Hollywood. With a desperate white guy who is forced into coaching a children's sporting team from a rough black neighborhood, you already know perfectly what to expect and of course he will only keep doing his job because of a beautiful lady at first (the kids school teacher), but in the end he will learn the true value of these kids' will to win and to make something of their lives, so they can get out of the neighborhood. No the movie never gets far away from the stereotypes. But somehow it didn't bother me all that much for once.

This is probably one of the best performances I've ever seen from Reeves (except for his roles in "The Matrix" and "The Gift") and despite the fact that this movie isn't a comedy, the dramatic story is relieved with some nice humorous touches. I don't know anything about baseball and normally I don't care about movies with baseball as the subject either, but for once I kept watching.

As a conclusion I would like to say that if you are looking for an original movie, you better start looking somewhere else, but if you want to see a drama that exceeds the average Disney boundaries, you might want to give it a try. As I already said, I was pleasantly surprised by it and that's why I give this movie a 7/10.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

i liked it a lot

6/10
Author: jimakros
25 July 2005

I liked this movie.Yes,its about a baseball little league,yes it has the usual "lets be a team and win" attitude,but its very well acted by these kids and the dialog sounds real,also its not concentrated only on the kids.

Its more like what the kids get to mean to this guy,who is sort of a loser,and doesn't actually care much about baseball or anything else.

I thought it was well acted,surprisingly good for Keanu Reeves who is not one of my favorite actors,but he seems inspired in this movie. I thought it was very well directed and the whole ghetto setting seems disturbingly realistic.It passes its social message in a simple,direct way without preaching.

I recommend it to anyone who is interested in a low key likable movie.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Predictable but an A+ nonetheless. Parental slant to review-

Author: aklukens from USA
8 September 2001



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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