The Perfect Game

  • Review Date: April 15, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sentimental, inspiring tale about Little League underdogs.
  • Review Date: April 15, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids learn about the true story that the film is based on, as well as some history about Mexico, the Little League, and race in America during the 1950s.

Positive messages

Kids learn that if they work hard and practice with discipline and determination, they can win -- even if the odds are stacked against them.

Positive role models

All the boys are incredibly dedicated, sweet, and hard-working. They are faithful to their team, their families, their coach, and their faith. Father Esteban believes in the boys, even when no one else does, as does Coach Cesar (although a bit more reluctantly). Cesar chooses to respect the right for all of the boys to play, even when he's commanded to play just the "better" pitcher.

Violence & scariness

A couple of fist-fights nearly break out -- one among adult men and one among preteen boys. A boy's death -- during a stickball game -- is recounted and alluded to several times. A father is cruel to his wife and son, and while he doesn't literally hit them, he's menacing and mean on several occasions.

Sexy stuff

Cesar flirts chastely with Maria. Mario jokes that he knows more about girls than the coach. Enrique eyes a girl at the market.

Language

Racial insults like "towel boy," "old colored man," "wetbacks," and "those Mexicans," etc. Harsh language said by a father, like "Shut him up or I'll do it myself!" and "He'll never be the son Pedro was."

Consumerism

Mild: Just a couple of Coke bottles, a Ford, and a Chevy.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Both the coach and Angel's father are shown either drinking or drunk. While the coach does it just once, Angel's father is shown angry, holding a bottle or glass, in a few scenes. Angel's mother confronts her husband about his drinking to no avail.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this inspiring sports drama about a Mexican Little League team that made it all the way to the World Series is a fine pick for most kids. There are a few themes that might be too difficult for kids under 7 to understand, like the discrimination the boys face when playing in Texas or the Midwest. Because it's set in the '50s, when Jim Crow laws were still the norm in the American South, the team has to deal with "whites only" signs, being called "wetbacks" and watching the sole black player of a team eat separately from his white teammates. One of the boys has a cruel, seemingly alcoholic father grieving the death of an older son, and the coach also gets drunk after being called a "towel boy." There are also a couple of scuffles between characters, although no actual punches are thrown. There's also a strong religious theme in the film, since the kids are strict Catholics. Also, kids learn about overcoming odds, working as a team, and relying on faith when confronted with obstacles.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on an improbable but true story, this inspiring sports movie follows a group of poor boys from Monterrey, Mexico who find a St. Louis Cardinals baseball and think it's a gift from God. With guidance from their supportive priest, Father Esteban (Cheech Marin) and Cesar (Clifton Collins Jr.), a former Major League clubhouse attendant, the boys -- led by Angel (Jake T. Austin), Enrique (Jansen Pannetierre), and Mario (Moises Arias) -- form an official Little League team that idolizes the Brooklyn Dodgers. After enduring Coach Cesar's strict practices, the Monterrey Industrials manage to defy the odds to compete against an American team in front of racist spectators until they miraculously reach the Little League World Series. Billed the David to the American team's Goliath, the Monterrey boys prove they can play THE PERFECT GAME.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director William Dear's overly sentimental tribute to the first foreign team ever to win the Little League World Series is so predictable it's funny. There's nothing unexpected in the entire film, and unfortunately, neither the actors nor the director could seem to agree whether to pronounce Mexican names in Spanish or some form of exaggeratedly accented English. But despite its considerable corniness, it's nearly impossible not to get sucked into the sugary-sweet underdog story. The adorable Catholic boys are irresistible in their belief that God has provided not only a real baseball but a former major-league "coach" to lead them to greatness. They even insist on having the108th Psalm recited prior to every game in honor of a baseball's 108 stitches. If you've just rolled your eyes, then you're not the intended audience for this afterschool-special-like tale.

At first it seemed laughable that Marin, who spent his early career as half of the pot-loving comedy duo Cheech & Chong, would play a believable priest, but as the movie continued, his character was actually gentle and patient and not played (completely) for laughs. Collins, an underrated character actor who's often pigeon-holed in Hispanic gangster or cop roles, displays a good rapport with the kids, many of whom are charming veteran actors like Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place), Arias (Hannah Montana) and Panettiere (Hayden's little bro). A subplot featuring Emilie de Ravin as a newspaper reporter reluctantly assigned to cover the Industrials on their undefeated journey is underdeveloped, whereas an African-American groundskeeper (Louis Gossett Jr.) who helps the boys decipher their opposing pitcher's hand signals would've been welcome in more scenes.Perfect Game is not Rudy, but it is an educational and inspiring little sports flick.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the David vs. Goliath theme in the film. What do the Monterrey boys have to overcome to compete in the World Series? How are the American teams "Goliath-like"?

  • Why are underdog stories so appealing? Name some of the best underdog-themed sports movies.

  • There are lots of Biblical references in the movie. How does the kids' faith affect their playing?

  • How is racism treated in the movie? Is it difficult to consider what it was like when there were "white's only" signs on bathrooms and elderly men were derisively called "colored" by white men? How did the kids react to the African American boy who must eat separately from his team? What would you have done?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 16, 2010
DVD release date:August 2, 2011
Cast:Cheech Marin, Clifton Collins Jr., Emilie de Ravin, Jake T. Austin
Director:William Dear
Studio:Slowhand Releasing
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some thematic elements

This review of The Perfect Game was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bynhillan April 18, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 
My 11 year old son and I loved this movie. It is based on a true story and features real people and real human drama (there is some emotional intensity). No strange-looking characters, no special effects! Just a charming, cathartic, ultimately uplifting film. I will not be able to complain that there aren't any good kids movies this year. In fact, I think I have a moral responsibility to see this film again!
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written byPrudentMom August 30, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Excellent for Family Movie Night

We watched this DVD with our two boys (ages 10 and 7). They play little league baseball and LOVE all things baseball and they really enjoyed it. This was an excellent family film. Yes, it is sentimental, but honestly, when most movies aimed at kids feature emotionally disturbed comic book superheros with "moderate" violence and "just a little sex", the throwback to old Hollywood sentimentality is a welcome change. We enjoyed this story which celebrates the innocence of children. I could critique some of the sub plots and minor inconsistencies, but with a movie like this you need to suspend disbelief and lose yourself in the story, in the same way kids do. Cheech Marin does a surprisingly great job as the priest. My kids groaned when I brought this DVD home for them (it hadn't received any hype on "Nick" or any other network) and ended up watching it twice they loved it so much. The film presents a great opportunity for a conversation about racism and provides, at a level appropriate to my boys' ages, an example of that terrible time in our nation's history. And to keep it light, some of our national character is redeemed when the underdog Monterray Industrialists become a crowd favorite. The major themes of the film are, overcoming adversity through faith and perseverance, and redemption (for two of the adult characters who turn to drink to ease their personal suffering).
Educator and Parent of a 4, 8, 10, and 11 year old Written byShaun Marksbury February 2, 2013
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Life and faith affirming.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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