Hardball Review

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An inveterate gambler repays a debt by coaching some poor but most definitely cute black kids at baseball.

★★★★★

Put simply - and this comedy-drama hardly harks to the complex - this is The Bad News Bears with gritty urban realism, as Reeves' inveterate gambler repays a debt by coaching some poor but most definitely cute black kids at baseball. Inevitably, he learns to care about more than the next wager and they get a glimpse of life beyond the cycle of poverty.

Diane Lane crops up all too briefly as a teacher, love interest and voice of reason. It's watchable enough and Reeves is an appealing screen presence, but it makes you be wish for something other than the straight formula for nearly all of it's running time.

Robbins struggles to establish an even tone, lurching from sports movie sentimentalism to sledge-hammeringly subtle social comment - his ghetto is a hive of gun-totting Tupacs and God-fearin' old folk. Anyway, isn't this supposed to be, you know, for kids?