Hardball

  • 2001
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Drama, Sports

How is it that uncounted riches have been lavished on Keanu Reeves for his blithe essaying of screen characters — nuclear physicists, for example, brilliant advertising executives and lawyers, L.A. bomb squad hotshots — as which he will be believable on roughly the same day that frozen yogurt goes on sale in hell. Fresh from the triumph that was...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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How is it that uncounted riches have been lavished on Keanu Reeves for his blithe essaying of screen characters — nuclear physicists, for example, brilliant advertising executives and lawyers, L.A. bomb squad hotshots — as which he will be believable on roughly the same day that frozen yogurt goes on sale in hell. Fresh from the triumph that was THE REPLACEMENTS, Reeves took on another sports-themed film, in which he is at least rather more credibly cast as a small-time Chicago-based gambler/loser named Conor O'Neill. Though promoted (not unreasonably) as a sort of urban update of THE BAD NEWS BEARS, this film is in fact closer in spirit to TO SIR WITH LOVE, only with baseball, gun-toting crack dealers and the Notorious B.I.G. replacing Lulu on the soundtrack. And of course, it's clichéd, tacky and cynical. Though the script is based on Daniel Coyle's Hardball: A Season in the Projects, a non-fiction account of his own coaching experiences, the story has been thoroughly formulized. By way of a not particularly believable plot device, the dissolute Conor is strong-armed into coaching the Kekambas, an inner-city baseball team. The Kekambas's foul-mouthed but good-hearted ranks include chubby, asthmatic Jefferson Albert Tibbs (Julian Griffith), rap-loving Miles Pennfield II (A. Delon Ellis Jr.); the talented Kofi Evans (Michael Perkins); and Kofi's adorable little brother, Jarius "G-Baby" Evans (DeWayne Warren), who's too young to play but has baseball in his blood. The rest of the utterly predictable story, including the shameless third-act sacrifice of one of the personable youngsters, is all about how Conor and the kids come together, learn to understand and respect each other, become better human beings and, of course, win the big championship game. Along the way, director Brian Robbins indulges Reeves in too many laughable inspirational speeches. He also wastes the terrific Diane Lane in the thankless role of the kids' dedicated teacher, Elizabeth Wilkes, although it must be noted that in the film's most ridiculous moment, when Conor comes on to Elizabeth with an echo of Sally Field's infamous "You like me!" speech, Lane's deadpan aplomb is more than a

lesser actress could have mustered under the circumstances.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: How is it that uncounted riches have been lavished on Keanu Reeves for his blithe essaying of screen characters — nuclear physicists, for example, brilliant advertising executives and lawyers, L.A. bomb squad hotshots — as which he will be believ… (more)

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