If this year so far is any indication, there is more unoriginal content to come. Hardball tells the story of a young man with a gambling problem who's life is touched by an unorganized inner city team, and he ends up leading that team to the championship. If Hardball sounds anything like a more adult version of The Mighty Ducks, you're not the only one.
Keanu Reeves stars as the troubled gambler, and I must say one thing about his performance... I like him in action movies much more. Just remember two things when you see this character on the screen: One, we've seen similar in many other movies where some down-on-his-luck chum finds motivation in coaching a kids' team, and two, no one in real life waves their hands as much as Reeves does. There isn't a scene where Reeves' arms aren't shooting through the air in a, "Come on, I'm innocent of charge," kind of way, and he does a few head flinches as well. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, then you obviously haven't seen the movie. Reeves does a good job here and there and you do feel for the character, but when the real drama sets in, especially towards the end, you begin to realize that he might just be a little out of his league.
The show stealers are the little kids that make up the inner city baseball team, the Kekambas (I just read that all the team names are based on African tribes, yet that was never made clear in the movie...). At the top of the list is DeWayne Warren, who plays the so-called "G-Baby" because of his size and his fast talking lips. In fact, all of the kids are pretty fast talking and it is very entertaining. I like how the movie portrays these kids as accustomed to their way of life, yet not okay with it, and at the same time still having the ability to be kids. The entire team is fun to watch.
Unfortunately, the Kekambas are not in the movie enough. Hardball relies way too much on Reeves' gambling problems, and much of the story is consumed by scenes of Reeves digging himself further into a hole. It's almost as deep as the pit where Reeves' non-action flops go. I, and the friend I went with, both wanted to see a more baseball-oriented film, and unfortunately, that is not what we got.
Clichés run rampant through the movie, from the plot to the characters to the ending. I won't say too much about the ending but if you don't know what happens in most inner-city movies, you actually might be surprised at what unfolds. For me, I just was hoping that the movie would end, because Hardball keeps going and going.
Of course, it didn't help that I was pissed off because in the middle of the damn movie the fire alarm went off, and we all had to vacate the premises, thinking that it was a bomb threat (in consideration of Tuesday's terrorist attacks).
Hardball really isn't that bad of a movie, but when you consider all of the similar sports movies that have been done better, you really have to pick this apart. The drama isn't convincing and at times the movie isn't entertaining, and at no time is it anywhere close to being a homerun. A single, at the best.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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