Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy, Dana Reeve, and Rob Reiner star in a film written by Robert Kurtz, Jeff Hand, and Howard Jonas and directed by Christopher Reeve.
Reviewed by D.J. Palladino
Maybe there is a fine line between hope and neurotic self-delusion. To me, they seem miles apart, but to the makers of this film, “never give up” means ignoring those you might hurt in the meantime. This handsomely animated film, which the late Christopher Reeve is credited with directing, echoes the mindset of a certain presidential administration. The story opens in the middle of Depression Brooklyn with a sandlot game being chosen up and our hero Yankee Irving being the last kid picked. So far, this is the clichéd baseball story, and its usefulness is obvious — baseball helps kids negotiate between the fantasy fan world of play and everyday reality. But Yankee is told by his teammates not to swing when he comes up to bat, because he is small and has a minimal strike zone and the bases are loaded. He ignores his team, swings away, and loses the game. In other words, Yankee Irving is a jerk proudly listening only to himself. The movie, sadly, rewards his heedless go-it-alone philosophy. It’s the Dick Cheney story for the kids.
It’s not accidental that Yankee has a talking ball and bat that only he can hear. He deserts his parents, throws himself from moving trains, and wins a game for the real Yankees. It’s good that American movies insist that dreams are worth following; we need nonconformists. But this film says it’s better to be crazy confident than sensitively connected to a group, and we can’t survive too much more of that.