Everyone’s Hero is one of those rare animated features that boasted a pretty hardy theatrical run but slipped onto the DVD scene fairly quietly and slipped into relative obscurity since. It’s kind of a shame really, because the piece has a lot of heart and it’s delivered in such a manner that children and adults alike can find something to take away from the experience. This isn’t to say that the film is without flaw of course but before we get into the ups and downs of Everyone’s Hero, let’s take a moment to review the facts.
Released on the big screen back in 2006, Everyone’s Hero is the 88-minute romp of a blend of historical and fictional characters based on a semi-true story that just so happens to be 20th Century Fox’s first theatrical release to wear the G-rating since 97’s Anastasia.
Set in 1932, back when the concept of CG held absolutely no meaning and the Great Depression was just getting underway, we follow the exploits of young baseball fan Yankee Irving (Jake T. Austin), whose father Stanley (Mandy Patinkin) happens to work as a janitor for New York City's Yankee Stadium. Like most Playstation-less kids of the era, Yankee has dreams of playing for the Yankees despite lacking the skills to play sandlot baseball with the meanies on his block.
One day during one such bullying, he finds a talking baseball on the sandlot he names Screwie (Rob Reiner). Sure this could have been enough material to base the entire film upon (after all, how many of us discover a talking baseball only to store it in our underwear drawer) but alas, this proves only the beginning of the adventures for dear Yankee.
While father and son are in the stadium, a thief steals Babe Ruth's famous bat Darlin' (which can also talk like Screwie and is voiced by Whoopi Goldberg). While the reason certain sporting goods can talk is never revealed, the heist results in Yankee's father being blamed and fired. The real hijinks concern Yankee reuniting talking bat with talking ball, reuniting lucky bat with proper owner and, as a bonus, perhaps clearing his father’s good name in the process.
On the surface there’s a lot of potential for a good feeling classic and the cast of voice talent and even direction is top notch. Kids will likely enjoy the tale and forgive its shortcomings though adults will likely find it a bit tedious by the midway point. It has moments of believability but by the end talking bats and balls are the least of the farfetchedness. Prepare for a near constant succession of coincidences and happenstances that result in a lot of cliché situations that all culminate in a very unlikely finale. Of course some degree of suspension of disbelief is required on account of the fact that the tale intertwines its prose with actual historical dates/ events, going in expecting an entirely fictional affair is perhaps the best bet for the skeptical adult viewer.
Pacing and production values are solid; in fact keep in mind that in 2006 even industry leader Pixar shied away from the practice of animating humans due to the difficulty of keeping things proportional yet the folks behind Everyone’s Hero showed no fears in doing so and the end result still holds up today.
In conclusion this one’s absolutely chalk full of good intentions and hints of greatness but the end result is fairly mediocre. A little more grounding in reality coupled to greater effort to avoid the far-reaching, forcefully feel-good moments could have made Everyone's Hero fun and inspirational for, well, everyone, not just for the little ones.
I'm actually shocked that considering the stellar voice cast, this movie wasn't released in cinemas worldwide or received a higher level of recognition. I have to be honest, this movie was just really great, in a sense that I can stick it on and my 13 month old niece would sit in silence for the entire movie and enjoy it. Any movie that can achieve such a feat is alright with me. It's no Pixar masterpiece (which I guess the comparison had to be inevitable with such a movie) but it is in a great … more
A talking baseball and a talking bat might not be the most likely characters to inspire a personal revelation about perseverance and self-esteem, but in Everyone's Hero it's just those two things that help young Yankee Irving (Jake T. Austin) overcome his reputation as a baseball loser and become a true American hero. A ten-year old spurned by the neighborhood kids because of his repeated strike-outs at bat, Yankee is at a point of personal crisis. A chance encounter with a talking foul ball named Screwie (Rob Reiner) and some time spent with his father (Mandy Patinkin), who's a janitor for the New York Yankees, gives Yankee cause for some serious reflection. When Babe Ruth's famous bat "Darlin'" (Whoopi Goldberg) is stolen by opposing teammate Lefty Maginnis (William H. Macy) and Yankee's father is fired as a result of the theft, it suddenly falls to Yankee and his new friend Screwie to find Darlin' and return her to Babe Ruth before the Chicago Cubs loose the final game of the World Series to the New York Yankees. The combined efforts of Screwie, Darlin', and new friend Marti Brewster (Raven-Symoné) aid Yankee in conquering his own self-doubt and infuse him with the self-confidence and strength to profoundly affect both his family and the entire baseball world. Produced by Christopher Reeve, this CGI animated presentation features a great cast of characters and voice talent, and an important message about the power of perseverance. (Ages 5 and older) --Tami Horiuchi