Best for: Mature older kids to adult
What it’s about: Conor O’Neill (Keanu Reeves) is a gambler who places one too many sports bets and is threatened with losing his life or quickly getting money. When he turns to a friend for a loan, the friend makes an offer he can’t refuse: coach a corporately sponsored underprivileged Chicago youth baseball team and get his debt paid off. Diane Lane plays the teacher who also takes a stand for the street-smart boys who play on the team.
The good: This is one of those movies that will make you laugh, cry and walk out feeling hope for mankind. The boys that make up the team are adorable, funny and a smart pairing for Reeves. Despite the many jokes about Reeves acting ability and range, this is one of those movies where he gets a chance to turn in an impressive performance. Director Brian Robbins gives us touching moments of; street-tough boys looking to their role model coach to give them hope, humorous bantering amongst the boys and of course some great baseball plays. But there are other scenes that I think are just as impressionable and important. Scenes of the boys walking through their tough neighborhoods running from thugs and dodging men whom lurk in the dark. Deplorable living conditions in buildings that should be condemned and glimpses of tenants sitting on the floor to avoid “drive-by” shootings. These scenes give the audience the chance to connect with the boys and empathize with the struggles they overcome. This is an age-old story but told with an insight into a world many of us could never imagine living in. I urge parents to take mature kids, they will appreciate what they have in life. It’s the kind of movie that will make you want to stand up and cheer. The not-so-good: Although the boys are cute and funny, there are some serious scenes that show street fighting, the death of a young boy, a bar scene with drinking and fighting and of course, strong language used by both adults and the boys.