Connor O’Neil is a man out of his luck. He’s a no good gambling addict who constantly fails at his bets. He’s also got a bunch of guys after him who will stop at nothing to kill him for their money. Connor turns to a rich friend who offers to pay him 500 dollars a week if he agrees to coach an inner-city baseball team. Desperate, he agrees.
Soon, he begins to bond with the teammates of the team who live in rundown projects with their only refuge being baseball. He bonds with them soon realizing they are human and not just dollar signs. I was rather surprised by “Hardball”. Movies with similar themes like this are often handled the wrong way with terrible plot devices, but this gets it right, most times. Keanu is good in this as the unlikable Connor who has to adjust to each of the team’s players.
He gives off great sincerity, though slowly we tend to take a liking to him. The team’s characters are the best part of the movie. Each of the players on the team are individuals and likable ones at that. Diane Lane (Unfaithful) plays the teacher from the boys’ catholic school and is great as Connor’s love interest. That said, the movie tends to drag, with much fault to the writing. The romance between Reeves’ and Lane’s characters seems very unnecessary and dull. Reeves does pretty good in what’s a charming sports drama that’s more about humanity than the joy of winning.