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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Baseball and the Ballerina is a retitled movie released originally as A Little Inside in 2002. It stars the young Hallie Kate Eisenberg, an adorable actress who was best known as the Pepsi Girl in a series of commercials in the 1990s. Here she is irresistible in the challenging role of a 7-year-old raised by a struggling but well-meaning single dad. They lost their beloved mom/wife in a car accident years earlier. The film earned its PG rating because of occasional swearing ("hell," "damn," "butt," one "s--t"). Other than that and some illogical story elements, it's fine for kids who like a sweet tale without too much complexity. Perhaps it has been rereleased because of its subject matter, its warm tone, and Eisenberg's charm, or perhaps it's because it was the first feature film performance by Jared Padalecki, currently a popular movie and television star (Supernatural). Either way, it's a pleasantly predictable story and OK for older kids, tweens, and up.
What's the story?
When BASEBALL AND THE BALLERINA opens, it has been five years since Robin Mills passed away, leaving behind her husband Ed (Benjamin King) and young daughter Abby (Hallie Kate Eisenberg). Abby's 7 now, and her dad long ago gave up his career as a promising minor league baseball player to commit his time to her. The two are close and loving and have made a satisfying life together. On the day Abby informs her father that she'd rather take ballet than continue as the only girl (and not a very successful one) on her Little League baseball team, everything seems to change. Ed is surprised and disappointed in his daughter's choice, but he's game and signs her up for ballet, hoping it's a short-lived interest. At the same moment, Ed is having second thoughts about having given up his beloved sport forever, is dealing with an overeager neighbor (Kathy Baker) who seems to insinuate herself into Abby's life, and is on the brink of perhaps -- perhaps -- dating again. For the first time, Abby and Ed's relationship is showing signs of strain, and when Ed does get a second chance to make it work again with his beloved Columbus Clippers, a Yankee minor league team, it's time for some serious adjustments. It's a decisive moment in the Mills household. Finding a balance between his beloved daughter's needs and his own may be the biggest challenge Ed has had to face.
Is it any good?
Hallie Eisenberg is adorable; Benjamin King is sympathetic and likable; but because it's slow and predictable, this film is just OK. An effort has been made to supply some emotional depth to the characters, but writer-director Harshbarger misses when it comes to providing moments that would make the story resonate or inspire. Small inconsistencies and careless writing didn't seem to bother Harshbarger, either, but they could easily have been remedied. Why would a very involved next-door neighbor and part-time caretaker not know how Abby's mom died five years earlier? Why would Ed Mills be meeting Abby's best friend's mom for the first time? In what world would a minor league baseball player get reinstated by walking on the field and asking the manager for a spot on the team? Why wouldn't Ed know that he couldn't take his child along with him for his out-of-town baseball games and plan accordingly? Nevertheless, if your family enjoys a disarming, first-rate performance by a child actress and doesn't mind a slow pace and some story blemishes, Baseball and the Ballerina may be worth a try.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that Baseball and the Ballerina is based on the fact that a mom has died. Why do so many films have that premise as a central storyline? Think about the opportunities a writer has that he or she would not have if an intact family were the focus. Does it provide a more intense relationship between parent and child? Does it make romance a possibility? What other freedoms does it give the storyteller?
There is a saying that "it takes a village to raise a child." How does this movie illustrate and affirm this concept?
Why do you think father-daughter movies have great appeal? What special qualities are evident when dads relate to their daughters? What is your favorite father-daughter film? Why?
- In theaters: February 17, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: June 17, 2016
- Cast: Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Benjamin King, Kathy Baker
- Director: Kara Harshbarger
- Studio: Tricoast Worldwide
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.