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REVIEW: The Perfect Game

A family film treatment of the 1957 Little League World Series (Monterey, Mexico vs. La Mesa)

The Perfect Game: Rates a C.
Courtesy photo

The Perfect Game is far from the perfect film. It does throw a few interesting curveballs into the mix of the clichéd sports film version of David and Goliath.

It’s a pleasant enough time at the ballpark…err, theater…if you want a family film to take the kids to. It will help if they’re baseball lovers, as the movie is rather long. In fact, there was a time before they played the “big game” that I went outside to do a phone interview. I came back in 30 minutes later and the movie wasn’t over. Talk about extra innings!

The film has more “Jr’s” than any cast I’ve ever seen. There’s Clifton Collins, Jr. I loved him as the hick in the underrated Extract from last year.

There’s Lou Gossett, Jr. as old Negro League player Cool Papa Bell.

John Cothran, Jr. plays a preacher, in perhaps the third or fourth movie he’s played that same character (I liked him most in Black Snake Moan).

And one of the Little League players is Mario Quinonez, Jr.

The story involves a bunch of restless kids in a poor area of Monterey, Mexico, in 1957. Collins plays a former locker room attendant for the St. Louis Cardinals, who had hoped to play or coach, but because of racism doesn’t get the chance.

When he returns home to Mexico, he spends his time working in a factory and drinking. That is, until a boy hounds him to put together and coach a team.

Cheech Marin has an interesting role. He’s getting high…with God up above. He’s a priest who helps mentor the children and get them into the United States for the Little League World Series (the final game is against a team from La Mesa).

When I contacted former NFL MVP Brian Sipe to tell him about the movie (since I thought in a previous interview with him, he mentioned playing on that team). He corrected me, saying that the La Mesa team he played on was four years later, adding, “We grew up admiring those guys, never imagining that we would follow them successfully.”

I won’t tell you if the first La Mesa beats the poor boys from Mexico, but I’m sure you have a pretty good idea.

At times the movie was a bit too corny for me. And with all these stories that are “based on true stories,” I wonder what really is true. I’m dying for a film that simply says “The true story of…” and I’ll know they didn’t play fast and loose with the facts.

I sat next to a kid that was confused by the sign that said “whites only.” And there’s another scene where an African-American player is sitting by himself at a diner. These are some moments that will provide a history lesson for your kids, if they’re equally confused.

I had a problem with one character that is so mean to his son (after the loss of his other son) and the coach, that it’s hard to ever like him. I had the same problem with the father in Whale Rider (a much better movie on all levels).

There’s a side story involving a female journalist who has some problems in this good ol’ boys club of sports reporting. It’s interesting, but also filled with clichés.

There have been lots of better sports films, and lots of better baseball movies. But this is the family picture that opens this weekend and with baseball season underway, might be just the thing to get you a dose of baseball fever.

Grading this on a curve with baseball and family films, it gets a C.