Dir: Willam Dear. US. 2009. 118mins
This ‘based-on real events’ baseball story has a certain innocent appeal as it traces the story of a team of impoverished kids from a small Mexican town who manage to bet all the odds and win the 1957 Little League World Series. Obvious markets are Spanish-speaking and those who appreciate baseball, though its good-natured family-friendliness means it could also be a safe TV buy in other territories.
There is never any real doubt that this team of talented wannabes won’t come out on top as winners.
Its main problem is that it is so content with the ‘real-life’ element that it layers in virtually every other cliché for good measure – racism, cruelty, romance etc – and neglects to make the story tight and dramatic.
But equally, there is a lot to enjoy here, and the likes of Clifton Collins Jr., Cheech Marin and Emilie de Ravin are known enough quantities to help attract audiences. Plus child actor Moises Arias, who features in Hannah Montana, may help draw in the youngsters.
The film is set in 1957, and former St Louis Cardinals player Cesar Faz (Collins Jr) is back in his home two of Monterrey, Mexico, and is drawn into coaching a ragtag team of local boys. He sees something in his team of enthusiastic youngsters, and overcoming all obstacles takes them to the US to compete in the Little League tournament.
Director William Dear has had some success in the kids’ baseball genre, having made Angels in the Outfield (1994) and The Sandlot 3 (2007), but never seems quite able to give the film its firm sense of direction, and there is never any real doubt that this team of talented wannabes won’t come out on top as winners.
Production companies: HighRoad Entertainment, Prelude Pictures, Lone Runner Entertainment, Kenio Films
US distribution: IndustryWorks Pictures
International sales: Porchlight Entertainment, www.porchlight.com
Producers: Daniel de Liege, Michael O Gallant, Mark W Koch, David Salzberg, Christian Tureaud, W. William Winokur
Screenplay: W. William Winokur, based on his book
Cinematography: Bryan Greenberg
Production designer: Denise Hudson
Editor: Chris Conlee
Music: Bill Conti
Main cast: Clifton Collins Jr., Cheech Marin, Moises Arias, Jake T Austin, Gabriel Morales, Emilie de Ravin