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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