Director William Dear’s “The Perfect Game” chronicles the true story of the first Mexican Little league team and its heart wrenching journey to the American little league championship of 1957. Having directed 1994’s “Angels in the Outfield” Dear is no doubt familiar with the formula for an unblemished sports film. Every movie ever made in this genre (especially when portraying true events) must have two or more the following clichés to be worthy of sports movie greatness:
• Misfit group or lackluster team (Check)
• Reluctant but talented player/Coach (Check)
• A tragic accidental Death (Check)
• A wise-cracking authority figure (Check)
• An unsupportive secondary character who comes around at just the right moment (Check)
•Civil rights reference (Only applies to movies that take place before 1975, (Check)
This film didn’t skip a single cliché and why should it? Why deviate from a formula that works? The misfits in this case, were a disadvantaged group of lovable Mexican boys who dream of playing major league ball. Having very little knowledge of the game they are reluctantly coached by an emotionally scarred neighbor (Clifton Collins Jr.) and former employee of a major league team who ends up learning more from them than he could ever teach. Motivated by the tragic accidental death of an elder brother the team’s star player, Angel (Jake Austin) must decide between the game and respecting his unsupportive alcoholic father’s wishes. The determined boys journey into the land of opportunity and experience good ole’American bigotry and prejudice (Civil Rights reference). Throw in a wise-cracking priest (Cheech Marin), a sharp tongued female sports reporter (Emile Ravin) and some really bad Mexican accents and normally you would have a recipe for the world’s cheesiest movie. Luckily for writer William Winokur this movie hits a home run! Predictability aside prepare to lose yourself in this film. Anyone can google the story and know how it ends, but the fun is in the journey and all the mishaps along the way. A paragraph on Wikipedia just wouldn’t do this tale justice.
The Perfect Game is a flawless underdog story complete with surprise encounters and great sacrifices. Though heavy on the emotion at times this movie never forgets its purpose, to entertain. I found myself rolling my eyes at the first few scenes, but by the end of the first half hour I was hooked. And by the end of the first hour, I had completely forgotten that I knew how the story ends and I was on the edge of my seat. With all the big budget blunders and 3D epics with improbable plots, it was refreshing to simply see actors acting. It’s hard to remember a time when the movie was about the story and not the actors in it or the gratuitous special effects. It was a rare treat to simply be entertained by a great story and not some computer generated over-hyped nonsense. The fact that its based on actual events is a major plus so, grab the kids, or some childlike adults and see this movie. The perfect game hits the perfect mark. And yes I am well aware of how corny that sounds, and I really don’t care, this movie was that
good. Now go see it! The Perfect Game hits theaters April 16th!