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With Jim Sabatini

The Perfect Game

The Perfect Game
Clifton Collins, Jr., Cheech Marin, Jake T. Austin, Emilie de Ravin, Bruce McGill

Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 16, 2010 Released by: Industryworks Pictures

This sweet-natured underdog sports movie is often family-friendly and, at times, touching, but with more sentimentality than honest, more truthful struggles as seen in last year's Sugar.

The Perfect Game (in baseball, referring to one team being kept scoreless, hitless, as well as no baserunners), is based on a true story and stars Clifton Collins, Jr., Jake T. Austin, and Cheech Marin. It captures the plight of the 1957 Mexican Little League team on their way to the World Series. At a time when pigs and chickens were used as bases when kids organized a game.

William Dear (remember Harry and the Hendersons?), working from a screenplay by W. William Winokaur (from his novel), lets the melodrama emerge in too much of a forced, didactic way.

That doesn't mean that Austin's young pitcher in Angel or Collins's Cesar aren't able to warm themselves up to an audience. Cesar, having left the St. Louis Cardinals due to bigotry, and Angel being troubled his grieving steel worker father (Carlos Gomez). A crestfallen Cesar and Angel convocate with a leap of faith and practice, practice, practice to shape up rag-tag Monterrey youths which include the latter on their way to a northern town in the Keystone State, Williamsport. Sounds a little like The Bad News Bears without the intended comedy.

This delayed production which led to some new casting and reshooting has familiar ingredients to it, with poverty and intolerance laced into its wisdom into all that can happen when young athletes put their all on the diamond. Some locals may take exception to an area shown with no industrialization unlike it really was back then.

Broadly drawn folks are out to give the team a hard time with open-mindedness on their side from Marin's proud cleric, a dogged journalist (Emilie de Ravin of Remember Me) and a caring preacher (John Cothran, Jr.). The meta-message of life through baseball is less inspired than heavy-handed as everything from the power of courage, faith, and love among other thematic elements doesn't provide the kind of payoff from Angel's proclamation that baseball being "perfection" to this easygoing, but tritely fictionalized Game.

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The Perfect Game        C                  C 

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