The only thing I think I like more than a movie with heart, is a movie that tricks me into believing it is just another screwball comedy; but then it develops into a film with a decent amount of heart.
That is precisely what this next feature did to me in my experience with it.
I know, two sports movies in a row, but they are completely different.
“Hoosiers” is a flat out well crafted high school basketball drama. “Major League” is about baseball, and does have a lot of screwball comedy elements, but it uplifts us in the end unexpectedly.
I loved watching comedies with my dad. He didn’t laugh a lot. When we had a movie that could get him to chuckle, we all enjoyed it. He had a great laugh. It might have been great to all of us because it was so infrequent. I just remember loving the sound of it. This movie made my dad laugh-out-loud frequently.
Like most comedies, the premise is quite simple. The owner of the Cleveland Indians wants to move the team to a more pleasant city. Her plan, fire all of the best players and managers and hire a group of “has-beens” and green “up-and-comers” so that she can pay them less money, they’ll stink, no one will come to the games–thus, it will be easier to move the team. The General Manager doesn’t like the sound of that and helps put together a team that looks like the one the owner is trying for, but really has the ability to be great if they can pull it all together.
And we’re off.
The cast is amazing. Tom Berenger is the lead “has-been” catcher, who is tasked with helping Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Charlie Sheen in an underrated performance) get his rocket arm under control.
My family and I for the most part love Tom Berenger. I call him “Rutger Hauer” lite. I especially like him in comedic roles, but he has the presence to be haunting as well like he was in “Platoon.” I have to plug one of his lesser known films here, “Last of the Dogmen,” he’s great in it along with Barbara Hershey, again. Great story. Go see it.
Along with Berenger and Sheen we have Corbin Bernsen as an overpaid “has-been” that is not playing as hard as he should. There is also Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes, the best named character in the movie, he’s a young up-and-comer that is as fast as Rickey Henderson.
My favorite casting in this movie, however, is the gruff James Gammon as the man hired to manage the team.
Gammon is one of those actors that you are familiar with because he gets a lot of different roles in a lot of different kinds of movies, but he is never a lead. This is the movie I will always remember him for. His reluctance to take the job when he is first approached by the GM is one of the first laugh-out-loud moments that my father and I shared. Well written and acted.
Add in Rene Russo, veteran Chelcie Ross, and a very young and buff Dennis Haysbert and you have a mostly undiscovered cast of future talent ready to explode onto the screen.
The written quote I listed for the title of this post doesn’t give it justice. The delivery by my favorite play caller of all time, Bob Uecker, makes it one of the funniest situations and lines in the film. I get excited for every scene in which he gets to make a call in this movie, and his comedic timing is priceless.
Comedies are the most impressionable movies on children. You learn so much from them. There are elements of comedy that are precise, calculated, and well executed; and sometimes, a baseball hits someone in the balls and we laugh. This movie has all of these elements and doesn’t come off as too heavy on either end of the spectrum.
Back to the heart.
This is a movie that forces you to laugh given the comedic situations that the writer has created, but the climax of the film gives me goosebumps. Every decision that writer/director David S. Ward created for the “big game” was done as well as any sports drama and to be surprised with the “plan” and not the outcome is a pure joy to experience and watch, not only for the first time, but again and again.
This is a movie my dad and I used to catch on television when we were flipping through the channels. It always caused pause.