Roger, who has lost his mother, is living separated from his father. As he and his friend J.P. are fans of the California Angels baseball team, he has got only two dreams: living together with a real family and seeing the Angels winning the Pennant.Written by
Hippy Hippy Shake
Written by Chan Romero (as Robert L. Romero)
Performed by The Swinging Blue Jeans (as Swinging Blue Jeans)
Courtesy of EMI Records, USA, A Division of ERG
Under License from CEMA Special Markets See more »
Although I don't usually go for relentlessly heartwarming fare like this, I happened to catch the 1994 version of ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (AitO) on cable one Saturday morning just as it was starting. Being an Adrien Brody fan, I was curious to see what Brody was like as a youth of 21 (20 when he filmed it, I suppose) in this early role as Danny Hemmerling, utility infielder for the California Angels (in the 1951 original, the hard-luck baseball team was the Pittsburgh Pirates. The name change is a nice touch, since it turns the title into wordplay). I decided to give the flick a chance, and it turned out to be a pretty painless, even amiable experience, with a decent balance of laughs, tears, sweetness, and baseball-based excitement. Also, my 7-year-old daughter liked the angel effects! :-) Directed by Mike Nesmith's frequent collaborator William Dear, AitO is the story of Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a foster child who prays real hard after his ne'er-do-well dad (the convincingly sleazy Dermot Mulroney) sarcastically says they'll be a family again once the last-place California Angels win the pennant. Soon Roger starts seeing real angels at the Angels' games, led by Christopher Lloyd, whose usual zany, eccentric irreverence keeps AitO from plummeting irretrievably into The Schmaltz Zone. Crusty manager George Knox (Danny Glover in world-weary, exasperated mode) is a hard sell, but once the team starts winning, he believes Roger's angel sightings, and soon Knox has Roger and his cute li'l pal and fellow foster kid J.P. (the adorable Milton Davis Jr.) at every Angels game for good luck. Knox even starts toning down his own temperamental outbursts and profane language, as much to appease the angels as for the kids' sake, resulting in a funny bit when he starts dressing down an umpire in his usual way but starts editing himself as he goes along. Predictable obstacles ensue, such as obnoxious sportcaster Ranch Wilder (Jay O. Sanders) trying to make trouble for Knox because of the angel angle. Sure, it all works out fine for our heroes in the end, but they're so darn amiable you don't mind! :-) Baby-faced Brody has a couple of good lines (I especially like his exchange with Glover about the emotional impact of the National Anthem at a ballgame) as well as a cute bit where a pretty blonde angel massages his shoulders before he goes up to bat. Brody isn't the only future star in AitO's lineup: his teammates include Matthew McConaughey and Neal McDonough, and of course, young Gordon-Levitt went on to co-star in TV's 3rd ROCK FROM THE SUN as well as such films as 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. The always-amusing Taylor Negron and Oscar winners (but not for this film :-) Brenda Fricker and Ben Johnson lend able support. If you're a baseball fan who wants to rent a movie appropriate for the kids and check out some notable young actors before they became stars, AitO '94 will do nicely.
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