Synopsis: Albert Brooks is a scout who finds Brendan Fraser (Steve Nebraska) in Mexico. Steve can throw and hit and run like nobody’s business. Yankees, contract, playoffs, blah blah blah. Hilarity does not ensue.
Sins committed: Turning Brendan Fraser into a caricature of a caricature of a baseball player. Giving Albert Brooks a job as a scout. Giving Brendan Fraser a 112 MPH fastball. Making Ozzie Smith—a career .262 hitter—the climactic character in Steve’s quest to throw an 81-pitch game (all fastballs, of course).
Redeeming qualities: At one point Steve makes a tortilla-face mask by biting holes in it to give it eyes and a mouth. That’s about it.
How it could have worked: If Steve had Bert Blyleven’s curveball, Nolan Ryan’s fastball, and Johan Santana’s changeup and was pitching a perfect game instead of an impossible game. Also, no helicopters.
The Air Up There
Synopsis: Kevin Bacon plays a former NCAA star and NBA prospect who blew out his knee and is now a college basketball assistant who goes to Kenya to recruit a player he sees in the background of a video.
Sins committed: Trying to make us believe that Kevin Bacon, a guy who’s maybe pushing 5’10” (Ed. note: Mr. Bacon claims to be 5'11"), is a former NBA prospect. Using the same “blew out his knee” premise as “The Mighty Ducks.” The African tribes featured in the movie use a basketball game to settle land disputes. The movie’s premise is as thin as the simile you’re in the middle of reading.
Redeeming qualities: Bacon’s costar, Charles Gitonga Maina Ngatia was a nice surprise. A nun says a curse word, too.
How it could have worked: Cast someone who wasn’t in “Footloose” as the star. Flip the premise around, having the tribe trying to get the college to recruit their talented player for the tribe's benefit rather than having the college recruit the player for the college's benefit.
The Cutting Edge
Synopsis: Can a former hockey player tame a firebrand figure skater? Olympics, here we come.
Sins committed: It’s about figure skating and blowing out knees. Or eyes, or whatever the hell happened to the hockey player. He got what he deserved.
Redeeming qualities: Some of the skating scenes are nice. You can get brownie points for watching it with the girlfriend.
How it could have worked: Less figure skating, more blowing.
A League Of Their Own
Synopsis: Girls play baseball because men are storming the beach at Normandy. Also, Geena Davis is a sex symbol and her sister Tank Girl is a brat.
Sins committed: Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna and Jon Lovitz have significant roles in this movie. It’s forty-eight minutes too long. “This Used to Be My Playground” is inexplicably the theme song for the movie. The tone can be described as, “Whininess with a hint of Lovitz.” Davis comes back for the final game of the playoffs after leaving her team in the lurch, suits up, and goes on to purposely throw the game so that her sister - the same sister Davis forced her team to trade away - feels good about herself. She drops the fucking ball. She’s, like, 6’8” 230 and her sister’s 5’1” 105. No way.
Redeeming qualities: Tom Hanks writes on a child’s souvenir baseball, “Avoid the clap, Jimmy Dugan.” Jon Lovitz says the words “pickle tickle.”
How it could have worked: Davis’s whiny fucking sister could have gotten knocked cold when they collide at the plate and Davis could have not dropped the ball. Davis could call for a pitch up in the zone again to strike her stupid-ass sister out. They could have decided not to make the movie at all. That would have worked for me.
Synopsis: I prefer not to.
Sins committed: All of them.
Redeeming qualities: None.
How it could have worked: If they didn’t make it.
Synopsis: Jimmy Fallon sure does love the Red Sox. Drew Barrymore sure does love her job. Jimmy Fallon sure does love Drew Barrymore so long as she’s not interfering with the Red Sox. There is sex somewhere in there, too. And Johnny Damon. But not both at the same time (Thank you God/Moses/Jesus/Mohammed[pbuh]/Vishnu/Buddha/Zoroaster/Ra and so forth).
Sins committed: Putting Jimmy Fallon in a movie. Remaking a British movie adapted from a British novel about soccer into an American movie adapted from the same British book about baseball. Walking on the field as the Red Sox won their first world series since before Warren Gamaliel Harding was in office. Voice over at the end that tidies up the movie.
Redeeming qualities: “The Wedding Singer” version of Drew Barrymore showed up, and she is cute. Jimmy Fallon only has about one-half of the lines in the movie, which means about one-half of it is watchable.
How it could have worked: Force Jimmy Fallon to take acting classes. Use the source material rather than just nicking its title.
Synopsis: Babe Ruth was a god among men and a real jerk-off.
Sins committed: Focusing only on the terrible qualities of The Great Bambino. Wasting John Goodman in a role that is curiously one-dimensional given the reverence that exists for Babe Ruth.
Redeeming qualities: Most of the baseball scenes were filmed at Wrigley.
How it could have worked: The writer could have written Babe Ruth in a manner similar to Mickey Mantle in “61*,” flawed but having redeeming qualities.
Amazing Grace and Chuck
Synopsis: Kid won’t pitch anymore because of nuclear weapons. Boston Celtics star Amazing Grace Smith concurs. Then a bunch of other people do, and then Amazing Grace dies. Oh, and somehow this makes the USA and USSR disarm.
Sins committed: Giving Alex English an acting job and calling him “Amazing Grace Smith.” Pretending that the powers that be in DC and Moscow somehow care what children do. Wasting Atticus Finch in a maudlin anti-war movie that is completely divorced from reality. The fact that I had to watch this movie in a required home economics class in 7th grade. Creating a world in which the US and Soviet Russia agree to nuclear disarmament—you know France would get cocky if that happened, and we don’t need snooty Frenchmen pointing their atomic bombs at us.
Redeeming qualities: Gregory Peck is great, of course. Jamie Lee Curtis is in her “Trading Places” prime.
How it could have worked: If everyone wants to get rid of nuclear weapons, that’s great. I’m all for it. But if the president decides to get rid of nuclear weapons because Alex English quits playing basketball and kids decide not to speak, I’m a little concerned that this could be a tactical error. Perhaps if the movie ended with the protest having no effect whatsoever, it might have been palatable. I don't want to be cynical. I mean, I believe the children are our future. So long as we teach them well, we can let them lead the way. We just have to, you know, show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Synopsis: Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd love the Celtics and Damon Wayans plays for the Jazz and they’re in the NBA Finals and they get Damon Wayans drunk and sort of kidnap him and then who the hell cares.
Sins committed: Casting Damon Wayans as a professional basketball player. Getting around trademarks by having Marv Albert call the NBA Finals the “NBA World Championship” in his announcing. Having Damon Wayans make fun of Dan Aykroyd’s character because he’s a plumber, which makes Wayans even less likable, if that is possible. Larry Bird and Deion Sanders both have cameos.
Redeeming qualities: Aykroyd’s character Jimmy: "This drink is called Jimmy’s dick. It’s short, fat, but it fills the gap.” While I was watching it, I was thinking of a good episode of “The Wonder Years,” and I was probably thinking that because of Daniel Stern.
How it could have worked: It could have been funny. Somehow, the same guy who wrote this steaming pile, Judd Apatow, also wrote “The 40-year-old Virgin.” Maybe it would have been funnier if Steve Carrell played the Damon Wayans character. His hairy manimal chest would have looked great in the scoop neck Utah Jazz jersey.
Synopsis: Guy wants to play baseball for a living, gets a shot in the Cape Cod League, and decides to walk off the mound during a no-hitter in order to catch a girl before she leaves on a plane for San Francisco, as though people don’t have telephones.
Sins committed: The aforementioned no-hitter decision. The fact that the scouts give him a $75,000 signing bonus even though he quit on his team with two outs left in his no-hitter. Forcing us to envision a world where Freddie Prinze, Jr. is a baseball player.
Redeeming qualities: Jessica Biel. Brittany Murphy is rather cute as well. Matthew Lillard is occasionally funny.
How it could have worked: He could have finished his stupid no-hitter. It’s only, like, 5 minutes. Just pitch quickly, and it’ll be over. Maybe she’s gone, maybe she’s not, but at least he finished it.
Disagree? Have other suggestions? Make yourself known in the comments, sucker.