(out of 5)
Keanu Reeves plays a compulsive gambler whose debts have caught up with him and landed him in big trouble. To help ease his money problems, his friend (Michael McGlone) suggests he take over a coaching assignment of an inner-city Little League baseball team and he will pay him weekly for it. Reeves doesn’t want to go anywhere near the idea, but his need for cash overrules everything and he accepts the assignment. Everything that you expect to happen, does: he will teach them a thing or two about life, and they will improve the quality of his. The surprise is, you’ll love going on this much-trodden journey, and will even delight when Reeves finds romance with the players’ beautiful schoolteacher (Diane Lane). All the kids are marvelous, and their interactions with Reeves are tense, touching and heartbreaking without ever resorting to maudlin, emotionally manipulative cheese. Even Reeves, who gives his usual blockhead performance that relies too much on hand gestures and his dopey voice, plays such a likeable character that you’ll decide to admire his performance anyway.
Directed by Brian Robbins
Cinematography by Tom Richmond
Music by Mark Isham
Production Design by Jaymes Hinkle
Costume Design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck
Film Editing by Ned Bastille