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In answer to a little boy's plea, a team of angels descend from heaven to aid a failing baseball team.


Plundering MGM's golden vaults, Disney have boldly chosen to remake their 1951 comedy baseball flick, Angels In The Outfield. Incorporating a heady combination of religion - of the God and baseball varieties - faith and fantasy and, more unsettling for younger viewers, death and abandonment, it's certainly an ambitious undertaking.

Initially there's much to enjoy. Baseball mad foster kid Roger (Gordon-Levitt) waits in vain for his errant dad to spring him from the caring, rundown, temporary home of foster mum Maggie (Brenda Fricker). Dad reckons there's as much chance of that happening as the crummy local ball team, the California Angels, winning the divisional title. So the tyke prays to the great umpire in the sky to reverse the team's appalling run. And before you can say hallelujah, Angel Al (Lloyd) and his winged helpers - visible only to Roger - descend to kick-start the team, much to the consternation of their irascible coach George Knox (Glover).

The film trots along with an amiable mix of slapstick, ball play, and the mellowing of Coach Knox as the team's rise from last to first. The fantasy impetus, however, wears mightily thin by the time the action moves into the ninth inning of the championship deciding showdown game. Trying to go with the concept that anything is possible if only you believe, the climatic affirmation of faith for orphan, coach and team is more likely to cause titters than the desired gasps.

Failing to pull off its loftier ambitions, this clumsy remake though pleasingly played and boasting some nifty special effects, eventually cuts its losses by plumping for sloppy, overplayed schmaltz. The problem is, even the weeniest of viewers are likely