“Hardball” is everything that you expect from a “Bad News Bears”/”Mighty Ducks” story. A reprehensible human is tasked with organizing a group of misfits into a sports team, and the coach is the one who is transformed in the end. The story is formulaic but satisfying. The acting of Keanu Reeves, however, is not satisfying. His emotional moments feel overacted and the other 95% of him performance is completely emotionless. The script gave him little more than a single monologue to prove his acting chops and the result is lackluster. The whole gambling aspect of the story is rather overdramatic. The ballplayers in the film are cute in a “kids say the darndest things” sort of way. DeWayne Warren puts on a nice performance (though much of it is due to the “cuteness” of such a small child using profanity) and it offers a chance to see Michael B. Jordan 15 years before “Creed.” There is a nice message in there about seeing the potential in a group of kids from the projects but it has been done better in other films. “Hardball” provides a moderate amount of entertainment and a few heartwarming moments, but I’d recommend any great movie about teachers (“Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Dead Poets Society”) before this one.
[Pictured: Gotta love Dewayne Warren! He has most of the best lines in the film]