Hardball

"Bad"

Hardball Review


Brian Robbins' Hardball is quite the cinematic achievement. In about two hours, we get a glancing examination of ghetto life, a funeral with a heartfelt eulogy, speeches about never giving up, a cache of cute kids (including a fat one with asthma), a hard-luck gambler who finds salvation in a good woman and a climactic "big game," where the underdogs prove to have a bigger bite than anyone ever imagined.

All that's needed is a guy getting hit in the nuts and a food fight to have the first film solely based on cinematic clichés. I can't wait to see the deleted scenes when it comes out on DVD.

Obviously, Hardball is a strikeout of a movie that never gets the bat anywhere near the ball. It stars Keanu Reeves as the aforementioned gambler, who seems to owe every bookie in Chicago an amount of money that rivals the gross national product of Guam. Out of solutions, he begs his successful corporate friend (the always welcome Mike McGlone) to lend him $5,000. Instead, McGlone offers Reeves the chance to help him coach a youth baseball team from the projects for a nice weekly stipend.

Reeves, who wants to keep his fingers, accepts the offer, but discovers McGlone is only too happy to let him handle the team entirely. The drowsy-voiced protagonist must teach the sassy inner city kids the baseball basics in a life of absentee parents and merciless gangs. And maybe, just maybe, they'll play in the big championship game.

One of the glorious surprises in the screenplay by John Gatins (Summer Catch), adapted from Daniel Coyle's non-fiction book, is that there aren't any. The movie coasts from heartfelt moment to heartfelt moment like a zombie. That wouldn't be so bad, if the characters had an ounce of subtlety or humanity to them. Most of the kids' time is spent yelling at each other, talking in slang and acting surprised. There's little that's naturally amusing about them, as they all seem to know the cameras are rolling. The worst of the lot is a tough-talking younger player (DeWayne Warren) whose sole purpose, as the movie unfolds, is being an emotional pawn, a tactic so utterly despicable I can't find the right words to express myself.

The adults also don't fare well. Reeves is impressively uninspiring as the down-on-his-luck loser. The character is poorly written, but Reeves gives another charisma-free performance. Every time he speaks, he sounds like he just got up from a long nap and is gradually waking up. Kids are supposed to rally around this guy? Diane Lane, who co-stars as Reeves' obligatory love interest, remains a glowing screen presence (see My Dog Skip for better proof). It's too bad that her role here consists of uttering lines like, "These kids trust you, and they don't trust anyone!" Then there's D.B. Sweeney as an evil rival coach and John Hawkes as Reeves' scummy betting buddy and other unoriginal characters you've seen before and hope never to see again.

I wanted Hardball to be good. Robbins' Varsity Blues was a funny and alternately taut tale of Texas high school football that had Ali Larter smothered in whipped cream and Jon Voight sneering at everything that moved. I haven't seen Robbins' goofy Ready to Rumble in its entirety, but I am intrigued that "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Martin Landau can exist in the same movie without there being serious worldwide repercussions.

Robbins obviously needs to go back to his forte -- making sports movies for guys and not cutesy, cuddly pap such as Hardball, which also manages to annoy and insult the audience. Here's hoping that happens in the immediate future.

Winner gets to eat #11.



Hardball

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 15th May 2001

Box Office USA: $39.7M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Munich Film Partners & Company (MFP) GHS Productions, GHS Productions KG, Nides/McCormick Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 39 Rotten: 61

IMDB: 4.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Conor O'Neill, as Elizabeth Wilkes, as Jamal, D.B. Sweeney as Matt Hyland, as Ticky Tobin, as Andre Ray Peetes

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.