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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Hardball

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane
Director: Brian Robbins
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genres: Sports, Drama, Comedy

*Also starring: Julian Griffith, A. Delon Ellis, Jr., Michael B. Jordan, John Hawkes, D.B. Sweeney, Trevor Morgan, Graham Beckel, Mike McGlone

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Think of it as a baseball version of "The Mighty Ducks" or an updated "Bad News Bears" with a white guy who is seeking redemption coming into a ghetto to help black kids find hope and salvation. Keanu Reeves ("Sweet November,""The Matrix") plays Conor O'Neill, a Chicago gambler who owes $11,000 to two demanding bookies. When he tries to borrow money from a friend to pay the debt, he must agree to coach a Little League team, the Kekambas, from the Cabrini Green housing projects in order to get $500-a-week. The team's unruly assortment of free-swinging, wise-cracking young players who live in fear and squalor amidst violence, predictably, switch his perspective on life. Particularly effective are Julian Griffith, A. Delon Ellis Jr., Michael Perkins, and little DeWayne Warren as G-Baby. As their dedicated teacher, Diane Lane provides an unnecessary romantic twist, while D.B. Sweeney is a rival coach. Adapting Daniel Coyne's novel, screenwriter John Gatins ("Summer Catch") and director Brian Robbins ("Good Burger," "Varsity Blues," "Ready to Rumble") have discarded many of former coach Coyne's trenchant observations about the relationships between the poor, African-American children and their white, middle-class adult coaches in favor of the usual, simplistic clichés - like the elitist league president, the contemptuous coach of the best team, the teacher who insists that the kids learn, and the parents' demands from the bleachers - and Chicago Cubs player Sammy Sosa does a cameo. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hardball" gets a sappy, sentimental box-score of 5. And what we're seeing is a sanitized adaptation, not the original version in which there was so much four-letter-word profanity that it could never have received a PG-13 rating.

Copyright © 2001 Susan Granger

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