Friday, September 15, 2006

Everyone's Hero

Written by Robert Kurtz and Jeff Hand based on a story by Howard Jonas

New York Yankees fans must be so delusional as to think baseball lives and dies with their team winning the World Series, that America depends on it, that they represent all that is good in the world. How else to explain the title Everyone's Hero, not Yankee Hero or New York Hero, or that even Chicago Cubs fans at the end of a Yankees triumph are going crazy by the film's conclusion.

Okay, maybe I'm being crusty. It's a cartoon after all, it's about a kid trying to stop being a loser, going on his own a la Finding Nemo. The film's plot concerns kid Yankee Irving (Jake T. Austin) trying to stop evil Chicago Cubs pitcher Lefty Maginnis (William H. Macy) in his effort to steal Babe Ruth's (Brian Dennehy) special bat Darlin (Whoopi Goldberg) with the help of a talking baseball (Rob Reiner). The movie makes a point that Irving is doing this to save his dad's (Mandy Patinkin) janitor job at Yankee Stadium after the bat is stolen on his shift (and with son in tow, which is against the rules), but the reason you hear most often is that the Babe needs his bat, because the Yankees can't win the Series against the Cubs unless he gets it back. I found the villainy of the Chicago Cubs in all this extremely laughable, represented by owner Mr. Robinson (Robert Wagner).

But seriously, come on now. This Yankees-as-good-guys thing doesn't seem to work, and when the movie hits Chicago for the big finale, some of the most ridiculous baseball action since Rookie of the Year takes place. Only, in Rookie of the Year, it at least didn't seem like much of a stretch after laying the groundwork. Also, like I said, Chicago Cubs fans seem to be OK with losing the Series, even excited. You see this kind of dramatization a great deal in movies, even though common sense is kicked to the curb--like in The Natural when Roy Hobbs, for the New York Knights, hits a gargantuan home run that destroys the outfield scoreboard clock, and inexplicably, ends the game as the visiting team. By the way, this movie shares a couple of things with that movie--the whole idea of the bat being half of a hitter's strength, even the score is a bit like it.

But I'm not going to be too hard on the movie, despite some glaring leaps of logic, because the movie seems to be for the very young anyway--I just think a little more fantasy would have made the super-ridiculous finale more palatable. In this way, movies like Everyone's Hero, began by Christopher Reeve before his death, shield themselves from real film criticism, which is fine by me. Adults without kids probably shouldn't expect anything from this, but families should like it OK.


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