Home Run Showdown is a “hit” for families. But it is in itself not a home run. One part Bad News Bears (the 1976 original, not the most recent remake), one part Mighty Ducks, and one part Little Giants (just on a baseball field), this story mixes the standard underdog sports story with the family split plotline that’s seen in Little Giants(1994). On the surface, the comparisons to The Bad News Bears (1976) are far too obvious. Just as in that original baseball flick, a young ragtag group of baseball players is led by a washed up ex-minor leaguer to great heights. Matthew Lillard (Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo 2) fills the shoes of the late great Walter Matthau this time out.
The Bad News Bears isn’t the only movie from which this movie very liberally lifts. Just as Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill went toe to toe in the pee-wee football movie, Little Giants (1994), so do Lillard and co-star Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The Adventures of Superman) here. To their credit, the feud between Joey and Rico is very believable. The sibling rivalry between these brothers is very real. There are so many families out there today who still suffer great rifts because of something that happened many years ago. And as angry as Joey gets at Rico at some points, some older audiences may just be waiting for Joey to punch out Rico.
Audiences will love to hate Rico. And that audiences will so love to hate him shows that Cain did his job. At the same time, watching Joey (Lillard) grow from not caring what he was doing to really caring about the whole team will make older audiences cheer for him that much more. At the same time, his lack of drive early on will make audiences want to hit him on the head and tell him to get up just as much as the kids on his team wanted. Just as Rico made audiences hate him, Lillard’s ability to garner an emotional response from viewers means that he did his job, too. In the same vein, Barry Bostwick (Spin City) is just as believable as the brothers’ frustrated father.
Lillard, Cain, and Bostwick did a wonderful job in this movie. The trio carried it on its own. But they weren’t the only cast to make the movie worth a watch. Supporting actor Wayne Duvall was just as despicable as Commissioner Simpson. In Simpson, audiences see a man who was stuck in his old ways, doing everything he could to keep a girl off of a baseball team, and basically keep the Cubs down for his own personal biases. While he wasn’t a major player in the cast, Duvall’s portrayal of Simpson added that much more enjoyment to the story, as there are sadly still people like Simpson out there, too.
Home Run Showdown may not be the most original sports movie ever written. But it does boast a cast that makes for a lot of heart. It makes for enough heart that it’s worth at least one watch. Home Run Showdown is available in stores and online now on DVD and blu-ray.
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