Although based on the real-life tale of nine underage underdogs from Monterrey, Mexico who swept the 1957 Little League World Series, this Cinderella sports story rings false from first pitch to last. Boys can’t just be boys here—they need to be pint-size saints, keeping the faith and crusading against racism. With God fully on our side—the Christian sermonizing leans heavily on vague, theologically dubious suggestions of divine baseball providence—there’s not even a swing-and-a-miss threat to the preordained outcome.
Recently fired MLB janitor Cesar (Collins) retreats south of the border to booze, scowl and don a wife-beater, until a kid named Angel (!) strong-arms him into coaching the town’s fledgling ball team. Along with the local priest (Marin), Cesar shepherds them to the promised lands—otherwise known as Texas and Kentucky—and then to the championship, where the film belabors its namesake. Director William Dear, apparent king of baseball devotionals (Angels in the Outfield, The Sandlot 3), betrays no understanding or respect for how the game is actually played: He harps on home-run money shots in which balls limply fly as if they were being controlled by string, remote control or the ghost of Ed Wood. The Perfect Game courts its target demos like a leg-humping hound, but sports fans, believers, Latinos and even young wanna-be Willie Mayses can find fellowship elsewhere.—Eric Hynes
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