As I’ve said before, I have one rule for reviewing a kids’ movie: Does it offer anything for adults who may be watching? Stale jokes, a soundtrack of songs that sounds like a combination of Creed’s greatest hits and a sack of sugar, and the vocal talents of Rob Reiner
will make adults dread seeing Everyone’s Hero. And even though I pay taxes and have a pension plan, I’m fairly certain kids won’t have much fun either.
The animated feature focuses on Yankee Irving, a Depression-era kid who embarks on a trip from New York to Chicago to return Babe Ruth’s lucky bat and to clear his dad’s name. Following Yankee is a crooked pitcher (voiced with gleeful malice by William H. Macy
) who wants the bat so his team can hold Babe hitless and win the World Series. Article continues below
Directed in part by the late Christopher Reeve
, Everyone’s Hero assumes kids know Ruth, so it doesn’t bother to explain his greatness, which would add screen time and substance and save a trip to the library. Instead, the writers rely on a smart-mouthed baseball and tart-tongued bat in a failed attempt to rouse a tired premise. The maneuver fails because, first, it’s more rewarding if the kid learns the lessons through human beings with experience, rather than from sporting goods spouting clichés and stupid one-liners. Second, it’s never clear why the bat and ball talk to Yankee. Is it like something out of the brilliant comic strip “Calvin & Hobbes,” but without the originality and insight? Is it a genie thing? Was dope readily available in the Bronx back in 1932?
Third, Reiner and Whoopi Goldberg
’s voice work will not inspire anyone to buy plush toys. As Babe’s beloved bat Darlin’, Goldberg is OK, a triumph for her. Reiner, meanwhile, delivers his lines like an aggressive salesman mixed with a hack vaudeville comic. He’s beyond awful. The other characters Yankee meet, including a tomboy and three happy-go-lucky bums, we’ve met many times before, and they appear just in time to impart inspirational advice to Yankee. With such unoriginal, lifeless characters, no wonder the voice work here is so flat; no wonder why it’s hard to muster any enthusiasm for 86 minutes.
As for the finale, I will only say that it doesn’t align with childhood fantasy, despite how ridiculous it is. When I was young, dreaming of patrolling third base for the New York Mets, I dreamt of playing at (or above) the skill level of my heroes. Those dreams never involved me crushing a game-winning home run off of a tee, or having every player on the opposition bobble the ball so I could fulfill my glory. I wasn’t interested in winning on a compromise. That the people behind Everyone’s Hero think kids would prefer an obnoxious talking baseball to that basic childhood fantasy shows just how misguided and poorly executed this movie is.