(out of 5)
With most able-bodied men off fighting in the trenches during World War II, professional baseball team owners turn to creating a women’s league in order to keep the game alive. A documentary about the All Girl League that lasted into the fifties has been turned by Penny Marshall into a very entertaining comedy detailing a fictitious version of the story. It mainly centres around two mid-western farm sisters (Geena Davis, Lori Petty) who join the league after a talent scout (Jon Lovitz) sees them play ball. Following that they are tried out, trained and even sent to refinement classes (“each girl in the league shall be a lady”), all the while building up to a personal emotional confrontation of their own. Davis is exceptional, carrying the whole film without the slightest effort, while Tom Hanks lends excellent comedic support as the team’s alcoholic manager. Other roles in this delightfully scripted comedy (that has its share of genuinely touching moments as well) go to newcomer Rosie O’Donnell, Ann Cusack, (Joan’s sister), Tracy Reiner, Anne Ramsay, and a very charming Madonna as sexpot All-The-Way-Mae Mordabito (her casting reportedly prompted original star Debra Winger to drop out over objections to “stunt casting”). The whole thing is great fun, even if it does last longer than it should and features some uneven pacing, with high pointers going to Madonna for her fantastic dance number.
Directed by Penny Marshall
Cinematography by Miroslav Ondricek
Music by Hans Zimmer
Production Design by Bill Groom
Costume Design by Cynthia Flynt