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Major League Review

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The subject is the Cleveland Indians and baseball goes screwball for a tale of bungling goofs achieving the impossible.

★★★★★

When Major League's opening credits roll to a ballad crooning the delights of industrial Cleveland, Ohio - a burg with as much style as Hull - you know this is a comedy.

The premise is that when a glamourpuss widow inherits the team of eternal also-rans she wants to relocate to Miami. The rules of the sport decree that to pull off a move she has to ensure attendances fall to an all-time low. So she fires anything resembling talent from the team and signs up a load of stiffs to alienate the already long-suffering fans. Naturally, when the players find out she thinks they're dog-doo they determine to prove her wrong.

The key players are Jake (Tom Berenger), the veteran catcher with dodgy knees. Ricky (Charlie Sheen), the rookie pitcher, paroled from prison, and handsome Roger (Corbin Bernsen), who won't do anything that might endanger his face. There's also a Cuban refugee who practices voodoo in the locker room among the assorted nitwits and misfits and a sprinkling of actresses in the stands to provide the odd spot of hanky-panky.

Charlie Sheen, sporting a modified mohican, is a delightful surprise at light comedy, turning in his first completely appealing performance as the car thief with 'great velocity' and no control. Dubbed 'Wild Thing' he becomes the cult darling of Cleveland, serenaded from the sidelines with the Troggs' anthem. In the straighter role of the battered, savvy team captain, Tom Berenger is affable as he urges that good old fighting spirit. Too bad he's also saddled with the routine romantic sub-plot involving his librarian ex-girlfriend and her pompous fiancee.

There's even talk of a sequel, in which the team go to the World Series. And sports fans may care to know that yes, the real Cleveland Indians are as hopeless as the chumps in the movie.

If you're looking for sophisticated wit keep going, but Major League is pleasant, undemanding fun and the most likely of the baseball movies to hit over here. You don't need to know what they're doing on the field, there are some amusing supporting performances, and everybody likes to see losers make a dream come true.

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