Sept. 15, 2006
Comedy, Action, Adventure, Kids/Family, Animation
(the voices of) Whoopi Goldberg, Rob Reiner, Raven Symone, Jake T. Austin, Brian Dennehy
Daniel St. Pierre
20th Century Fox Distribution
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By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
- Baseball fans or not, families will fall in love with Everyone’s Hero, the delightful new animated film from 20th Century Fox. Unlike many of the animated films hitting the big screen today, there is plenty here for parents to love.
The film was to be directed by the late Christopher Reeve who agreed to take on the project after his son became enthralled with the story originally penned by IDT Entertainment Chairman Howard Jonas. Jonas wrote the tale as a bedtime story for his kids and later passed it on to Reeve after deciding it would work well as an animated film.
“I always knew I wanted to bring in the biggest here I could think of to direct,” Jonas said. “To me there is no bigger hero than Christopher Reeve.”
When Reeve’s son Will wouldn’t put the book down long enough to eat dinner one night, Christopher and his wife Dana knew they had a good story on their hands.
The heartwarming tale centers around Yankee Irwin (Jake T. Austin), a 10-year-old boy growing up during the Depression era. Yankee idolizes the great slugger Babe Ruth (Brian Dennehy), but his own baseball skills are dreadful. His lack of athletic ability leaves him rejected by the neighborhood boys who play ball on a vacant sandlot in the afternoons.
Yankee is ready to give up the sport entirely until his father encourages him to “keep on swinging” and never give up on his dreams. His father Stanley (Mandy Patinkin) works as a custodian at Yankee Stadium, which allows Yankee to get a behind-the-scenes look at the uniforms and equipment of his favorite players and dream of playing in the big leagues himself one day.
All is well until one night when Babe Ruth’s lucky bat, Darlin’ (Whoopi Goldberg), is stolen from the ballplayers’ locker room. Since Yankee’s father was on duty at the time, he is held responsible and immediately fired.
When Yankee discovers it was Chicago Cubs pitcher Lefty Maginnis (William H. Macy) who stole the bat in an attempt to throw off Babe’s game during the World Series, he devises a plan to get the bat back. He is joined by a wise cracking baseball, Screwie (Rob Reiner), who has become jaded about the sport after being hit out of Yankee stadium as a foul ball and abandoned in a neighboring playground.
Together the unlikely pair succeed in recovering the missing bat and set out with the lavishly pampered and spoiled Darlin’ in an attempt to return her to Yankee’s baseball hero and restore his father’s honor.
The film’s highlights include lively banter between Darlin’ and Screwie, several chase scenes between Yankee and Leftie, and an array of colorful characters that Yankee meets on his journey. Despite the obstacles he encounters, Yankee remains determined to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goal.
Jonas believes this hearty spirit of determination that permeates the film is what attracted Reeve to the project. “He related to the vision of a boy’s perseverance and overall theme of love between parents and their kids,” Jonas said.
Ron Tippe, one of the film’s producers agreed. “There’s no question in my mind that the reason that Chris Reeve was in love with this story was because of its meaning,” Tippe said. “The story is about a young boy who has to keep on swinging. If you look at Chris’ life, and I don’t mean post-accident, I mean from day one; that was his philosophy. That vision that he had – of never giving up, of believing in oneself -- is a beautiful thing and certainly informed the film.”
Before his death in 2004, Reeve was able to complete a lot of the storyboarding and other prep work for the film. His wife Dana, who died from lung cancer earlier this year, voiced the character of Yankee’s mom.
In addition to the appealing plot and charming characters, the film is beautifully animated. Parents will also appreciate the fact that unlike other animated films released recently, the creators of this tale did not succumb to the temptation to fill the film with double entendres that leave adults trying to explain adult-themed “inside jokes” to their kids. Except for a couple sight gags and a reference to flatulence, there are not many objectionable elements in this movie.
Instead, the filmmakers focus on providing a first-class story and a fun journey that offers valuable lessons to all of the main characters in the end. For its mix of baseball, good clean fun, and family values, Everyone’s Hero scores a home run!
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More articles by Belinda Elliott on CBN.com
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