Dir: Christopher Reeve, Daniel St. Pierre, ColinBrady. US. 2006. 85mins.
It's easy to see why Christopher Reeve,who died during the making of animated children's film Everyone's Hero (directing duties were assumed by Daniel St Pierreand Colin Brady), was attracted to the material. The story of a young boy whofinds the strength and courage to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds,it's a story that Reeve was living every day. Part comedy, part road picture,part buddy-buddy story and part adventure, the story also takes as its themethe love that binds families together.

While the filmlacks the sparkling personalities and memorable dialogue found in moresophisticated fare, Everyone's Hero -formerly known as Yankee Irving - isa cute film for children. Although the plot, characters and theme are quitetame, compared to more sophisticated fare, they offer a certain universalappeal.

But despite itslaudable message and unusually poignant behind-the-scenes history, Everyone's Hero had a soft showing whenit opened in the USat the weekend, taking just over $6m. Overseas, where baseball tends not tohave as strong a following (save in Japan), returns will be lesser,although the involvement of Reeve - and his late wife Dana, who has anexecutive producer credit - may pique some media interest.

Opening in the1930s, the film introducers 10-year old Yankee Irving (voiced by Austin), who knows everystat about his beloved New York Yankees baseball team. When premier sluggerBabe Ruth's (Dennehy) bat is stolen, Yankee's dad (Patinkin), custodian at the sports stadium, is blamed.

Determined tosave his father's job and reputation - and return the bat to its rightful owner- Yankee follows the real thief halfway across the country to rescue Darlin' (Goldberg), the name Babe bestowed upon his luckybat.

Yankee isaccompanied on his travels by Screwie (Reiner), a talking baseball who never got his shot at beinga "homerun ball." Along the way they meet a whole host of characters, includinga helpful young girl and her dad (Symone andWhitaker), a member of the local "Negro League" team who gives Yankee importantpointers on how to improve his own game.

Although set in Depression-era America, Everyone's Hero has no feel for its time period; until baseballgreat Babe Ruth's name is mentioned, there isn't even a suggestion that thefilm takes place in an earlier age. Why the story is set in the past isn'tclear; it could just as easily have unfolded in the present, although hoppingtrains and talking to strangers would be a dicier proposition today.

The 3D computeranimation is adequate but nothing out of the ordinary, although Yankee's eyesand mouth convey a wonderful array of emotions.

Austin does a particularly nice job voicingYankee; Reiner, as Screwie,and Goldberg, as Darlin', prove a bit grating. Thetalking bat and ball are a neat device, however, as, essentially, they serve asYankee's inner voices -- forlorn and pessimistic one minute, confident andresolute the next.

Production company
IDT Entertainment

US distribution
20th Century Fox

Christopher Reeve
Dana Reeve
Janet Healy
Jerry Davis,
Stephen R Brown
Morris Berger

Ron Tippe
Igor Khait

Robert Kurtz
Jeff Hand
Jan Carlee
Andy Wang
Production design
Daniel St Pierre

John Bryant
John Debney
Main cast (voices of)
Jake T Austin
Rob Reiner
Whoopi Goldberg
William H Macy
Brian Dennehy
Mandy Patinkin
Robert Wagner
Brian Dennehy
Dana Reeve
Joe Torre
Robin Williams