Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane and D.B. Sweeney score in this uplifting story of triumph over adversity that "hits an emotional home run." Conor O'Neill (Reeves) is a down-on-his-luck gambler in debt to dangerous loan sharks. Desperate for cash, Conor reluctantly takes a job coaching a youth baseball team. The "team" turns out to be a ragtag group of tough-talking kids from Chicago's inner city. Secretly, Conor plans to desert the team after he wins a big bet. But the stakes are higher than Conor imagined: The kids need someone to believe in. As Conor wrestles with his past, the kids start to teach him some lessons that will forever change his future-that responsibility and trust must be earned and hope can appear in the most unlikely places.
Keanu Reeves stars in this story that might best be described as Bad News Bears
in the projects. Conor O'Neill (Reeves) is a charming ne'er-do-well with a disturbing gambling addiction. His penchant for betting on the wrong teams leaves him owing several thousand dollars to very violent people, and he ends up coaching a children's baseball team to pay off his debt. The movie skimps a bit on process: the kids start out as terrible players and become better but we don't see how; Conor starts caring but we don't see why. As by-the-numbers movies go, though, it isn't a bad one. The young actors in the cast are talented and understated. Most of the kids' characters are only barely fleshed out by the script, but this keeps the movie from being hijacked by extra-cute mugging. Parents should be cautioned--this movie has some very violent scenes that will frighten young children, and swearing is depicted as precocious and adorable. Still, like a baseball game, it isn't a bad way to spend your time. --Ali Davis