The Perfect Game
Kids save day in ‘Perfect Game’
There’s plenty to root for in the true story of a group of baseball-loving kids from a dusty Mexican industrial town who made an impossible run to Little League World Series glory in 1957. But much like a Sox starter struggling for the first couple of innings before settling down, “The Perfect Game’’ takes a while to get to the parts worth cheering.
Directed by veteran baseball sentimentalist William Dear (“Angels in the Outfield,’’ “The Sandlot 3’’), the film isn’t just about the boys’ journey, but also the one taken by their coach, César Faz (versatile Clifton Collins Jr. of “Sunshine Cleaning’’ and “Capote’’). A clubhouse attendant for the
The story finds its groove after the boys have persuaded reluctant César to organize them into a bona fide Little League team, and they cross the border into Texas — hoofing it the last 10 miles in their cleats — to begin tournament play. Their road exploits are likable slices of Mexican-Americana, whether the undersize underdogs are ecstatically pig-piling on the ball field or demonstrating a youthful, one-tribe obliviousness to prejudice at a diner pit stop. Dear even finds the zone with one of his peripheral story threads, enlisting Emilie de Ravin (“Lost’’) for an amusing Rosalind Russell riff as a gal reporter dismissively assigned to follow the team across Texas — and, to her editor’s eventual chagrin, all the way to the Williamsport, Pa., finals. Meanwhile, Collins gets to bite into some character-grounding material as he’s confronted with the just-a-towel-boy slights of his past, goes on a bender, and jeopardizes the entire team’s visa status.
The climactic drama of the championship game owes largely to the fact that, despite their unprecedented success as a foreign team in the tournament, young Angel Macias and his teammates somehow didn’t go down in history, at least not stateside. Americans don’t know their story, not the way we know that, say,