Monday, May 10, 2010

The Perfect Game - ***

The Perfect Game depicts the trials of the first Mexican team to win the Little League World Series. The movie is kind of like the team itself: scrappy, a little rough around the edges, and in the end it comes out of nowhere to be pretty good. It has it's share of faults, but aside from being a little preachy in the beginning and featuring the inspirational film's stock character of the stubborn father who seems to not want to see his son succeed, and who berates and belittles at every turn until the end, when he risks something to witness the final victory, there's nothing too offensive about the film. Stubborn Dad is handled best when he has a little charm, like Paul Dooley in Breaking Away or even Ned Beatty in Rudy, but here he's a little too serious, which I guess is okay; it is his son who pitches the perfect game in the championship (the only time that has ever been done), so a little crowd-pleasing drama is excusable, I suppose.

But for the most part, The Perfect Game is full of charm and wit. Even the preachiness in the beginning dissolves into harmless fun, with Cheech Marin of all people playing the team's own personal traveling baseball encyclopedia/priest. And a corny cliched romance sub-plot between the coach, played by the underrated Clifton Collins, and a girl back home is handled well enough to actually add to the film rather than detract from it, with Coach being love-coached by a little dirt-ball Romeo who can't throw a ball but can whip up an excuse for why Coach missed dinner with the girl's family and produce a make-shift bouquet of flowers in a moment's notice. The rest of the team is fun to watch too and while this is no Bad News Bears, it's no Hardball (the one with Keanu Reeves) either, and there's enough heart in it to win just about anyone over.

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