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Everything posted by Chris Spicer
What’s the worst that could happen bringing back an iconic baseball classic back for more hijinks and fun 5 years later? When this movie came out back in 1994 and I was 11 years old and I remember this being the movie that got me most excited to watch anything baseball. I saw this in a 2-screen theater in Grand Forks, ND (where I’m from) with my friends with no parents and we enjoyed everything about this movie. But does it hold up today? Major League II brings back director David S. Ward along with most of the cast from the original movie. Most noticeably missing is Wesley Snipes who by that time had built up a string of box office hits and was in to high of demand to get in this sequel. Omar Epps steps in as Willie Mays Hayes and does a good job but Snipes would have helped draw a bigger audience at the time. The movie was made for 25 million dollars but only squandered a mere 30 million dollars at the box office. The biggest change the studio made was going from rated R in the original to PG in this sequel. The change clearly did not pay off and left this movie struggling to connect with the adults who loved the first movie. The humor was a little more dried up and the themes were a lot less adult driven. Charlie Sheen does become the movies star and at this time in his career, he was at his peak. The plot brings the team back as World Series contenders who are coming off winning the division title and then were beat by the Chicago White Sox. All the success from last season has changed the players in different ways. Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) cares more about his public image over his pitching, Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) than becomes a Buddhist becoming more carefree which hurts in game play, Willie Mays Hayes (Omar Epps) gets into making Hollywood movies to which makes him want to be more of a power hitter, and Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) returns dealing with knee injuries and is too old to play baseball. Every single player from the first movie is dealing with something and they all have their own hurtles to overcome. Some of these seem very realistic and then there are some that seem forced just to build some internal conflict. How each one over comes their strife’s has their own issues, but they all really seemed very rushed. This movie comes off very much like a sitcom and not as much of a theatrical movie. To this movie’s credit, it does introduce some fun characters that help make this a better movie. The films highlight is the bad guy or the new player they bring in as an off-season signing in Jack Parkman (David Keith). Parkman is there to build conflict with the whole team and eventually a final confrontation with Rick Vaughn. He is a power hitting catcher who is arrogant and loves to be more about himself. He than eventually gets traded to the Cleveland’s rival the White Sox building up to a dramatic ALCS series between the two teams. David Keith does a really good job of selling that cocky and charisma that makes this character so unlikable. Another fun new character in this movie is also a catcher in Rube Baker (Eric Bruskotter) and he eventually becomes the heart of the movie. He start’s off the movie being talented and has one issue and that’s getting the ball to the pitcher. It’s played for laughs and is quickly fixed by new coach Jake Taylor who decides to give up his cleats to help the team in a new way. He has him recite articles from Playboy magazines to help him take his mind off the pressure of getting the ball back to the pitcher and it works. Rube also has a lot of good dialogue in this movie and you can tall that the screen writers wanted his character to come off a little dumb but with a big heart. Eric Bruskotter does a good job of pulling it off and deliver’s some of these lines with ease. The last new character they bring in is outfielder Isuro Tankaka (Takaaki Ishibashi) and he comes in with the trade for Jack Parkman. He absolutely is played for laughs and comes in with a temper and eventually helps break Pedro Cerrano of his hitting slump by getting under his skin and get him angry again. It is a fun pairing between the two and their chemistry plays out nicely. Although this movie was panned by critics and audiences in 1994. This movie isn’t all that bad. I had some issues with how they wrapped up Rick Vaughn’s love story and his character ark and how they wrapped it way too neat and unearned along with how the wrapped up a lot of other character’s arks and how they put Tom Berenger’s character on the backburner after being the lead character in the first movie. If you put aside all the PG humor this turns out to be an entertaining baseball movie. It has some cheesy dialogue, and it does a good job of building up the stakes. I had the excited feeling today as I did when I was 11 when Ricky Vaughn comes out at the end of the movie with his original hair cut and the stadium is blaring Wild Thing. The buildup for that moment in the movie paid off and watching the matchup between Ricky Vaughn and Jack Parkman is entertaining. This sequel is not a classic by any means, but it does a good job of entertaining baseball fans and having fun for an hour and 40 minutes. Rating: Triple! 3 out of 5 stars.
Thank you both for the kind comments! This is my first review for this site and I’ll continue to post more baseball movie reviews around once a week so look forward to those.
One of the greatest baseball movies of all time wasn’t played with men as the lead actors but was with women. In 1992, Penny Marshall directed A League Of Their Own. To this date it is one of the most highly regarded baseball movies of all-time and was set in a time in which there was a chance that baseball was put in the backburner to World War II. At this moment in time, while a lot of the men were out fighting the war there were a lot of the women home taking care of their families. Cub’s owner Walter Harvey (Gary Marshall) decides to talk other owners of the Major League Baseball to create a women’s baseball league to help fill the void. This movie helps capture this moment in time with a story of two competitive sisters, memorable supporting characters, and great acting. The heart of this film rests on sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit Hinson’s (Lori Petty) competitive nature and love for each other. The movie starts off with the two going back and forth about Kit’s batting while scout Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) looks on and determines that Dottie is the player he wants on his team for this new big-league team. Dottie refuses but it’s Kit that insists this is her chance to get away. Ernie tells Kit that if she talks Dottie into playing than they both can play, and she does. Throughout the movie there is a glaring difference between the two’s talent level and Dottie is a star while Kit is too stuck in playing the game her own way and often does not rise to the challenge. Kit begins to become very resentful of Dottie’s success to the point that she is traded to a new team. The movie makes it apparently clear that if each sister could trade places, that they would, and that Dottie would be just as happy at home waiting on her husband to come back from the war. It’s this moment in the movie that you wish the two could have just made up and kept winning on the Peaches. But what would be the fun it that; there had to be a rivalry with a climax that pays off this rivalry. Both sisters meet up In the World Series and the rivalry is settled. Watching this the first time, I had wished it went the other way but after repeat viewing it is a very satisfying conclusion. The best movies have supporting characters that help carry a movie. Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), the Peaches manager who is an alcoholic has some of the best moments of the movie. He starts off treating the whole thing as a joke and then begins to warm up to the team. Everything from taking an extended pee in front of the girls to yelling there’s no crying in baseball to one of the girls is some movie magic. There’s also the teammates of the Peaches that include Mae Mordabito (Madonna), Doris Murphy (Rosie O’ Donnell), and Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh) who also become the heart of the movie as well. Their all dealing with their own issues on the field and off the field that really help audiences want to rally around them. Mae helps a fellow player how to read, Doris keeps the team engaged, and Marla finally feels comfortable in her own skin and marries a man. The team becomes a sisterhood, and they all keep each other accountable. The acting in this movie is what make this film tick. Before the movie even started filming; all the actors had to spend eight hours a day, six days a week doing baseball drills so that the movie looks realistic. Penny Marshall wanted the film to look very authentic. Geena Davis was a perfect choice as Dottie because she does a good job of coming off as a talented baseball player and you feel like her character is genuine. Tom Hanks is a scene stealer who injects the movie with a sense of sarcasm and charm that it would be hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. Rosie O’Donnell also steals scenes with her comedic timing and her heartwarming scenes of reacting to the huge stage they were playing on. Madonna has some good moments too but at the time this came out may have been more of a distraction based off her popular music career. Even some of the smaller parts like Jon Lovitz and Garry Marshall all do a good job with what they are given. Davis has even said that a lot of the women playing baseball in scenes suffered ripped off skin from sliding home in continuous takes. All the hard work and research done in these characters really shown through the actor’s great work. In the end, this movie packs an emotional punch with the characters returning over 40 years later to open an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. We than see the characters reminiscing and we see the fates of these characters and they all sing their team’s song one last time together. It’s movie moments like this that we remember why we love the game of baseball and why we love playing baseball and that’s because we loved playing the game with our teammates. A league of their own does a good job of letting us remember the spirit of being young and making the game about our love with it by giving us a good story of two sisters, memorable supporting characters and great acting! Rating: Grand Slam! 5 out of 5 stars.