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A League Of Their Own (1992)

Once in a lifetime you get a chance to do something different

Directed by:

Penny Marshall

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 128 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States

Playing rounders for a living is a tough job – but someone’s gotta do it. And, in 1943 America, with Joe DiMaggio and co off fighting Gerry, it was down to the womenfolk to keep the sport of baseball ticking over.

As it happens, the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League became popular enough that it survived for a further eight years after the War came to an end. But ‘A League of Their Own’ tells the story of those first pioneers to replace their oven gloves with catcher’s mitts, as it were.

Central to the tale are the sisters Dottie and Kit (Geena Davis and Lori ‘Tank Girl’ Petty), who are plucked from their jobs as milk maids to join the ranks of the newly-formed Rockford Peaches. Among their more prominent team-mates are Rosie O’Donnell as the burly no-messing Doris, Megan Cavanaugh as gorilla-faced hard-hitter Marla, and good ol’ Madonna as the yo-yo-drawered Mae ‘All-The-Way’ Mordabito.

But it’s largely the presence and performance of Tom Hanks as washed-up Major League hero Jimmy Dugan that lifts this a cut above the average sport movie. Dugan’s a boozer and a cynic, but he’s also got a bit of heart, and gradually begins to take his job as Peaches manager more and more seriously – so much so, in fact, that by the end of the movie he even knows some of his players’ names. Now that’s dedication!

Hanks also gets all of the funniest lines in this solid and, for the most part, entertaining feel-gooder. It’s also an interesting story that’s being told, although it inevitably contains practically every cliché we’ve come to expect from sports flicks, from the easily-categorized team “characters” to the big end-of-season-game climax. The film also gets bogged down in mushiness in the final stages, when we’re reminded that the whole thing’s being told in flashback and are returned to the modern day reunion of the girls, now all old biddies of course. Look out for the dodgy bit of dubbing involved in putting Geena Davis’ voice over the lip-movements of old Lynn Cartwright in the role of “Older Dottie”.

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It's Got: Some impressive dancing from Madge.

It Needs: To cut out the horrendously saccharine bookend scenes featuring the wrinklies.

DVD Extras Trailers, two documentaries, player profiles, and the Madonna music video ‘This Used to be my Playground’. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Bend It Like Beckham, Mr Baseball

Summary

An enjoyable and entertaining, if not hugely original, sports movie.

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