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"HARDBALL"
(2001) (Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Mild Heavy Moderate Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Moderate Mild Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Heavy Moderate Moderate Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A compulsive gambler finds himself drawn to a group of inner city kids after he agrees to coach their baseball team in exchange for money to pay off his debts.
PLOT:
Conor O'Neill (KEANU REEVES) is a compulsive gambler who's always scrambling for money due to owing a great deal to various bookies who have grown increasingly impatient with him. When he goes to see his friend Jimmy Fleming (MIKE McGLONE), the broker offers him a proposition. If Conor will help coach an inner city kids baseball team, Jimmy will pay him $500 a week to help eliminate his debt.

Conor reluctantly agrees, despite his gambler friend, Ticky Tobin (JOHN HAWKES), thinking he's crazy. It doesn't get better for Conor when he learns that Jimmy has no plans of helping coach the team that's made up of a bunch of smart-mouthed kids from the projects who seemingly don't have a prayer of winning a game.

Among them are Andre Ray Peetes (BRYAN HEARNE), Jamal (MICHAEL B. JORDAN) and Jefferson Albert Tibbs (JULIAN GRIFFITH), the latter of whom is asthmatic. Then there's Clarence (KRISTOPHER LOFTON), Sterling (STERLING ELIJAH BRIM), Alex (ALEXANDER TELLES) and Miles Pennfield II (A. DELON ELLIS, JR.), the pitcher who's always dancing around to the one tune playing on his headset.

When Conor learns that he needs a full team or he'll forfeit games and thus lose his money, he visits the boys' teacher, Elizabeth Wilkes (DIANE LANE), hoping to convince her to allow Kofi (MICHAEL PERKINS) and Ray-Ray (BRIAN REED) to play. She informs him that the boys' mother has stated they can't play unless their academic performance improves, and so Conor promises he'll do what he can to make sure both happen.

As the season begins, and the newly reinstated boys' younger brother, G-Baby (DEWAYNE WARREN), joins them, Conor reluctantly being coaching the team, eventually coming to care about the boys, all while trying to deal with his debt, gambling addiction, attraction to Elizabeth and the efforts of rival coach Matt Hyland (D.B. SWEENEY) to undermine his efforts.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Fans of anyone in the cast might, as could be the case with inner-city kids interested in a film about kids like themselves.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For thematic elements, language and some violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEANU REEVES plays a compulsive gambler who reluctantly agrees to coach a youth baseball team to help pay off his debt. He drinks, smokes and uses profanity, and eventually comes around to care about the kids.
  • DIANE LANE plays the boys' teacher who's looking out for their best interests.
  • JOHN HAWKES plays Conor's gambling friend who smokes, drinks and uses profanity.
  • MIKE McGLONE plays a friend of Conor's who uses some profanity and offers to help pay off Conor's debt in exchange for him coaching the inner-city baseball team.
  • A. DELON ELLIS, JR. plays the young and very proficient pitcher who gets his pitch-by-pitch inspiration from a rap song he listens to on his headset.
  • JULIAN GRIFFITH plays another of the boys, a young kid with asthma who must deal with thugs who terrorize him.
  • DEWAYNE WARREN plays a young kid on the team with a smart mouth who uses profanity.
  • MICHAEL PERKINS plays another young player with a smart mouth and a bad attitude.
  • BRYAN HEARNE plays another player who's always fighting with Kofi.
  • MICHAEL B. JORDAN, BRIAN REED, STERLING ELIJAH BRIM, KRISTOPHER LOFTON and ALEXANDER TELLES play other young ball players, some who cuss and/or have sassy attitudes.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 use of the "f' word, while an abundant amount of other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered, many of them coming from young kids and one of them being a sexually related insult.

    A brief gun shootout results in an innocent bystander (one of the young kids) being shot and killed, while some thugs beat up and rob another young player. Other thugs pursue and hit the adult protagonist, while some of the kids fight on the ball field (mostly struggling). Some of those scenes may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.

    Various characters drink and smoke, with a few drug related references being made, while they and others have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including the protagonist who's a compulsive gambler). Meanwhile, some behavior (including the kids cussing and acting sassy) may be enticing for some kids to imitate. If you're still concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for specific information about what's present and/or occurs in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Conor drinks from a flask.
  • People drink in a bar, where Conor downs a shot of liquor.
  • Jimmy refers to a place in the city as where Conor used to buy "reefer."
  • A person walks by, drinking from a bottle inside a brown paper bag.
  • People drink inside a bar, including Ticky and Conor.
  • We see miscellaneous people drinking on the street at night.
  • Conor drinks from a bottle inside a brown paper bag, while Ticky briefly acts like he's a crazy person on crack (to scare away some customers he sold expired tickets to).
  • Conor has a beer, and then another.
  • Some people in the hallway where Andre lives drink.
  • People drink in a bar, including Conor who has a beer.
  • Ticky asks Conor if he's on crack (in relation to a risky bet he made).
  • People drink in a bar, including Conor and Ticky who down shots of liquor.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Conor's hand and head are bloody after purposefully punching and breaking a car window (with the hand) and window (with his head). We later see some blood soaked through the bandage on his hand.
  • We see a small, bloody bullet hole in a child's shirt after a stray bullet has hit him.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Conor puts his gambling addiction ahead of everything else for a while (but eventually comes around). He also wants nothing to do with the kids, even letting Jefferson walk home at night by himself rather than accompany him. He also allows others, including Elizabeth, to continue thinking he's a businessman taking out time to help the kids.
  • Some of the kids have bad attitudes toward each other (but they're usually short in duration or done in a mocking/joking manner).
  • Jimmy has a bad attitude for passing off the team to Conor (after talking about giving back to the community, he seems to want nothing to do with coaching the kids).
  • After Elizabeth says that she's not a nun, Conor replies, "Thank God."
  • Two older kids catch Jefferson at night, with one punching him in the face. The other then repeatedly kicks him as they steal his backpack.
  • Ticky is an opportunistic con artist/scalper who lives off Conor and sells people tickets for a game that took place the night before.
  • Kofi has a bad attitude regarding the game.
  • Conor gets very testy toward Elizabeth when she reveals that she knows he's not a businessman and replies that she looks like a "freaking boring" school teacher.
  • The league president and another coach have both types of attitudes for picking on Conor's team via technicalities, all so that the other coach's team can win.
  • A bartender sarcastically asks Conor what he's going to do now that he won a big bet and asks if he's going to "coach black kids."
  • Some kids and then parents/fans of an opposing team taunt Miles by repeatedly chanting something about the pitcher's name being Sally.
  • Some thugs get into a gunfight that leaves an innocent bystander dead.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Some scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Jefferson walks home at night and then briefly hides after seeing a bunch of older and tough looking teens/adults hanging out. He then tries to run but two young thugs catch, beat and rob him.
  • As two of the kids go to enter a building, some men rush out, firing their guns at a car. A person then returns fire with a shotgun, causing them to scramble before returning their own fire and blowing out the back window of the escaping vehicle. We then see that one of the kids has been hit in the chest and killed (there's a small bloody bullet hole in his shirt).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Shotguns: Used in a shootout between some young men with an innocent bystander being shot and killed.
  • Two of the kids hear some gunfire on the street and can identify what kind of gun is responsible.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (some of which are uttered by young kids): "F*ck this," "(That's bullsh*t)" "I don't give a sh*t," "Sh*tty," "Oh sh*t," "I'm down with that sh*t," "That's some weak ass bullsh*t," "Holy sh*t," "You don't know sh*t," "Damn, that sh*t is tight," "Look at that sh*t," "You wanna kick my ass?" "Shut up," "You're screwed," "What are you, freaking sick?" "Fat ass," "Bitch" (said many times by the kids about themselves, others and various things, but not directed at women or girls), "(Oh) Hell, no," "Suckers," "Freaking," "Don't screw me" (nonsexual), "Jack off" (nonsexual), "Hell will be paid with your ass," "Up yours," "You suck, just like my girlfriend," "D*ckhead," "Jackass," "Where'd you get the fat butt?" "Hell, yeah," "What the hell is wrong with you?" "Punk," "This team sucks," "Sucker," "Dork," "You guys suck," "Take a piss," "Kiss our ass," "Loser" and "Nuts" (testicles).
  • The kids keep repeating something along the lines of "We're going to the ship," which also sounds like "We're going to the sh*t." Some kids may also want to imitate the young characters' cussing and sassy attitude.
  • Conor's hand and head are bloody after purposefully punching and breaking a car window (with the hand) and window (with his head), to show that he can beat himself up.
  • Ticky jokingly tells Conor that he (Conor) has "exactly breath" and then explains that by saying his breath "smells exactly like your ass."
  • Some of the kids give "the finger" to others and Conor does the same to an adult.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful music plays during certain parts of the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song has lines about shooting up a place and seeing some ladies tonight "who should be having my baby" (heard/sung several times).
  • Some of the included songs have lyrics that couldn't be understood, thus offering the possibility of some of them containing objectionable material.
  • PROFANITY
  • Various young kids speak some of the following. In addition, the kids keep repeating something along the lines of "We're going to the ship," which also sounds like "We're going to the sh*t."
  • At least 1 "f" word, 49 "s" words, 2 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ckhead"), 13 asses, 12 damns, 6 hells, 1 crap, 2 uses each of "God," "Oh God," "Oh Jesus" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see Conor wrapped just in a towel.
  • One of the kids taunts another by stating, "You suck, just like my girlfriend."
  • SMOKING
  • Conor smokes at least 10 times, while Ticky smokes a few times and various miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • One of the kids mentions that where he comes from, fathers don't come back home (referring to a book he had to read for class).
  • We see family members at the funeral for one of the young boys.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Compulsive gamblers.
  • Inner city kids and how many people have given up hope about them.
  • Life in the inner city.
  • Two of the kids hear some gunfire on the street and can identify what kind of gun is responsible.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Conor knocks people aside as he runs out of a bar. A guy catches him and then pushes Conor back against a wall where he punches him. After asking if this man wants to beat him up, Conor says he can do that himself and so punches a car window (shattering it) and then runs head first into a window, breaking it (and cutting his hand and head in the process).
  • A thug grabs Conor and pushes him back against a wall. After a moment, the thug tries to hit him with a baseball bat (and puts a hole in his wall).
  • Two of the young kids fight on the ball field (struggling, etc.).
  • Elizabeth accidentally opens a door into Conor's face.
  • The kids get into a fight after the pitcher throws a pitch that hits the batter.
  • Two older kids catch Jefferson at night, with one punching him in the face. The other then repeatedly kicks him as they steal his backpack.
  • Some of the kids fight on the baseball field again (nothing graphic).
  • Some slapstick material includes Jamal letting the ball hit him on the head as if falls from the sky.
  • Some of the kids fight again after losing their first game.
  • Some men chase after Conor at night through various alleys.
  • As two of the kids go to enter a building, some men rush out, firing their guns at a car. A person then returns fire with a shotgun, causing them to scramble before returning their own fire and blowing out the back window of the escaping vehicle. We then see that one of the kids has been hit in the chest and killed (there's a small bloody bullet hole in his shirt).



  • Reviewed September 6, 2001 / Posted September 14, 2001

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