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Little Big League Review

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When eleven-year-old Billy's grandpa dies he inherits a major league baseball team and becomes the coach.

★★★★★

Eleven-year-old Billy Heywood (Edwards) is Minnesota's biggest little baseball fan, watching all his team's games in the company of his millionaire granddaddy (Jason Robards) who just happens to own the club. When gramps croaks, he leaves the less than impressive Minnesota Twins in Billy's capable hands, and since, rather conveniently, it's the summer hols, Billy fulfils every baseball-mad American schoolboy's dream by becoming the team coach.

The Twins' dumbfounded players, naturally, don't take too kindly to a little pipsqueak telling them where they're going wrong, but they soon knuckle down when Billy starts spouting his "baseball should be fun, guys" philosophy. The results happen, and Billy eventually becomes a folk hero.

Since Billy's way too young to care about stuff such as girls, the compulsory romantic sub-plot involves his mother (Crowe) and the Twins' star player (thirtysomething's Busfield). Horrified at the prospect of one of his players getting beyond first base with his mom, he promptly drops him. As Billy begins to get rather too big for his boots, his friends desert him, his mother grounds him and he's forced to become accountable for his actions, with the film suddenly invoking a tedious moral high-tone, preaching responsibility and ethics.

It's all comic book stuff and those without a masters degree in baseball will be left baffled by the lengthy match sequences, but it zips along harmlessly, weaving its way through a minefield of boy's own cliches to the obligatory pat ending.

A few more laughs wouldn't have gone amiss, but then baseball's a serious business - especially when you've got your maths homework to finish before the team talk.

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