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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

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review movie reviewmovie review
4.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewvideo review
5.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

HARDBALL, directed by Brian Robbins (VARSITY BLUES) and written by John Gatins (SUMMER CATCH), contains more miraculous conversions than a revival. An awkward blend of THE BAD NEWS BEARS with BOYZ N THE HOOD, the movie strains credibility with every plot twist.

Set in the rough environment of an inner city ghetto where the kids are shot at, beaten up and offered drugs, it stars Keanu Reeves as a gambler and a loser named Conor O'Neill. Conor is an almost completely despicable character until, in the last act, he makes his saintly transformation. Up until then, he is a nervous and jumpy guy whose only interest in coaching baseball is so that the bookies with baseball bats don't kill him before he hits it big with his basketball bets and can pay off his debts. Reeves plays an unsympathetic character and plays him badly, so his fans might want to skip this film. In a throwaway part, Diane Lane is given nothing to do as Conor's almost girlfriend.

Since Conor can earn five hundred a week, he agrees to coach a little kids' baseball team. They are such trash talkers, trash mumblers to be more precise, that it is easy to see why the movie originally got an R rating. The team is so bad that a 16-to-1 loss is cause for minor celebration. Although Conor does little more than take attendance and lean against the fence, the kids miraculously learn the game of baseball without anyone teaching them. And just asking them to stop the bad language is all that is needed for them to cleanup their act. Although he pays the kids almost no attention, they are somehow inspired by his surly presence. "Don't you think I might have something better to do than worry about you guys and your little baseball team," he tells them on one of the many times when he abandons them.

The last act is a tear-jerker that makes the movie questionable for kids under 12 who may be significantly traumatized by it. You have to give the film this. Through a twist of fate, it is strangely topical. One of the kids is thrown off of the team because it is discovered that his mother has doctored his birth certificate so that he appears to be younger than he really is.

HARDBALL runs 1:40. It is rated PG-13 for "thematic elements, language and some violence," and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, thought it was a really good movie and gave it ***. His favorite character was G-Baby (DeWayne Warren).

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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