Laverne and Shirley’s Penny Marshall had directed some pretty darn good films, including Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Big, and A League of Their Own continued her streak. With an all-star cast of actors who hadn’t quite reached their full stardom yet, it shone a funny spotlight on a subject few had considered for decades, a women’s baseball league that ran from 1943 to 1954. Not trying to be too historically accurate, it allows the humor and humanity to flow in a surprisingly entertaining way.
Lori Petty and Geena Davis were in their prime as Kit Keller and Dottie Hinson, and, though Kit’s jealousy seems juvenile, their competitive sisterly relationship is still realistic and paints both of them sympathetically. Madonna also makes a memorable appearance as Mae and, in one scene, dances well enough to win Dancing with the Stars. I’m not a big fan of Rosie O’Donnell, but her distinctively loud voice works well on the ball field and she gets some hilarious one-liners, like “Let’s make like a bread truck and haul buns” or “I’m so depressed, I could eat a cow.” Other up-and-coming players like Megan Cavanaugh, Anne Ramsay, Renée Coleman, and Tea Leoni also have smaller roles, as do Jon Lovitz and David Strathairn. The best role, of course, goes to Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan, and, though he’s an utter jerk for the first half of his performance, his comedy is so effortless that Jimmy is still somehow endearing, even as he screams the famous line “There’s no crying in baseball!”
A League of Their Own isn’t really a “meet ‘em and move on” movie in the traditional sense, but it does have a number of memorable characters and a similar kind of ending that brings back most of them in a nostalgic, heart-tugging way. Revisiting all the older versions of the girls gives greater depth to the plot, by making this baseball interlude a defining time in their lives. Whoever cast the older versions of the actors did an excellent job in finding aged look-alikes; Lynn Cartwright as the older Dottie and Kathleen Butler as the older Kit share an amazing resemblance with their younger counterparts.
Overall, A League of Their Own presents how girls broke down barriers simply by enjoying a ball game. (A brief scene of a black woman throwing the ball to them and nodding knowingly brought home that point.) Whether you love baseball or not, this film is a funny and dramatic look at a lesser-known bit of sports history. Who wouldn’t want to see Mrs. Little, Tank Girl, Evita, Turk from Tarzan, the Evil Leaper, and that lady from “Mad About You” all playing ball together, with Forrest Gump cheering from the sidelines?
Best line: (Dottie, considering leaving baseball) “It just got too hard.” (Jimmy) “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great. “Artistry: 8 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: N/A Originality: 9 Watchability: 9 Other (touching, meet-‘em-and-move-on-style end): +4 Other (language): -1 TOTAL: 47 out of 60
Next: #152 – Les Miserables (1998)
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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