Rated PG for some thematic elements
Predictable but uplifting, "The Perfect Game" is family fun
You've probably seen "The Perfect Game" in countless other sports and/or family films. Underdog comes from behind to win big. That's the exact them of the calculated but inspiring new family film "The Perfect Game," which tells of a Mexican little league team that literally came from nowhere to win the Little League World Series. Starring a group of unknowns and a handful of character actors, there's some solid, decent messages that make the film a winner: that hard work and perseverance actually do pay off in the end.
Clifton Collins Jr. is Cesar Faz, a St. Louis Cardinal assistant coach who's laid off and has to return to his native Monterrey, Mexico for work in 1956. With the help of the local priest (Cheech Marin), he organizes a little league team, Monterrey's first, for some of the local boys who need an outlet for their time and energies. Before long, the boys become good and start winning games and find themselves all the way at the 1957 Little League World Series against a much larger American team. With everything going against them, they seemingly don't stand a chance, but with their families, their town and their country behind, they seem destined for bigger things.
"The Perfect Game" is a winning film that'll have you cheering the Monterrey team that became known as "Los pequeños gigantes" for becoming not only the first foreign team to win the Little League World Series, they did it with force, winning a "perfect" game (the only perfect game in that series' history) with the help of their ace pitcher Angel Macias (played by "Wizards of Waverly Place" actor Jake T. Austin). You know exactly what will happen and the underdog story has been told numerous times before, but you'll be cheering for the winning team.
It's a little baffling that Lionsgate has had the film sitting on the shelf for a couple of years, claiming marketing and financial difficulties, after all this is a great and worthy family film to be seen. Character actor Collins, usually seen in edgier roles like in "Brothers" or "Extract" carries the film in a gruff performance, and watch for cameos from other well-known actors such as Bruce McGill and Lou Gossett Jr. (as real-life baseball legend Cool Papa Bell), but it's the young boys playing the Monterrey team, including Austin and "Hannah Montana's" Moises Arias, who have the film's more memorable moments.
Stay with it until the end, and you'll be uplifted, encouraged and inspired. "The Perfect Game" isn't a perfect film by any means (including a saggy mid-section and it's a tad too long) but it is a perfectly suitable family outing at the movies, which can't always be said these days.