Hardball Movie Poster Image

Hardball

(i)

 

This umpire calls Hardball out at first base.
  • Review Date: May 7, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Child shot and killed, another child badly beaten, gang violence.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Very strong language, most of it used by children.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drug use, scenes in bar, drinking, smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes very strong language, including many four-letter words used by children. The boys are surrounded by drug use and gang violence. They can identify the weapon by the sound of the shooting and take it for granted that they must sit on the floor to be out of the way of gunfire that might come in the window. One child is badly beaten and another is killed. Also, this film was originally intended to be released as an R, due to the language used by the children. The producers argued that it was an authentic portrayal of the urban setting. Protests during the filming, and, more significantly, marketing concerns about whether the audience really wanted an R-rated movie about a little league team, led them to cut some of the worst language to obtain a PG-13 rating. Yet the movie still has some material, including the gang shooting of a child, that is far more likely to be upsetting to younger audiences than a few four-letter words.

What's the story?

In HARDBALL, compulsive gambler Conor O'Neill (Keanu Reeves) owes a lot of money to various thugs. A childhood friend offers to pay him $500 a week if he will take over the friend's responsibility to coach a baseball team in Chicago's Cabrini Green, one of the nation's most dangerous housing projects. You know where it goes from there because you've seen it in The Bad News Bears, The Mighty Ducks and dozens of clones.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

There's always room for another story of underdogs and redemption, but Hardball never delivers on any of the opportunities that formula creates. We barely get to know any of the kids on the team except for two inevitable cliches -- the fat kid and the cute little kid who talks a lot. Reeves can be terrific in a part that suits his range, but he can't pull off the character's struggle with his gambling compulsion or anger at himself. And he gets no help from the script, which makes him behave in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner and does not have a single memorable line of dialogue. We don't want to be told that he and the kids come to care for each other in a movie like this – we want to be shown. And there is not one moment of practice, teaching skills, or conversation to make us believe it.

The movie makes the most of the audience's inherent commitment to the storyline. We want those kids to make it, and we want Conor to make it, too. The other reason to watch is yet another quietly arresting performance by Diane Lane, and there is a timely plot twist concerning a player with a forged birth certificate. One of the movie's most wrenching scenes shows him after he is kicked off the team, wearing gang colors and warning his former teammates with a meaningful glance to get away quickly.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the children helped Conor realize that he needed to make some changes. Why was it important that Conor made a rule that the players could not insult each other? What did Conor learn from G-Baby? What do you think will happen to the members of the team when they get too old to play in the league?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 14, 2001
DVD release date:February 19, 2002
Cast:D.B. Sweeney, Diane Lane, Keanu Reeves
Director:Brian Robbins
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, language and some violence

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Teen, 16 years old Written byTheresaL July 4, 2009

Heartfelt, if cliche

I actually really enjoyed this movie. The entire concept (a reluctant, down on his luck man coaches inner-city kids and makes a profound impact on their lives) is cliche and the acting isn't the best in the world, but it's enjoyable and even rather touching. I actually cried at one part. There is a lot of cursing which makes it inappropriate for younger kids, but if you can get past that then the movie is very enjoyable. I'd recommend it to everyone.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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