Making the Grades
Directed by Penny Marshall, A League of Their Own is based on a true story about the All American Girls Baseball League started in 1943, so the bats could keep swinging while the men were at war.
Siblings Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) grew up on an Oregon dairy farm until one lucky day when they were recruited to play for the Rockford Peaches. Although the two share a love for the game, their affection for each other sometimes wears a little thin. This is especially true of Kit who finds it difficult to live in her big sister's shadow.
Yet their personal differences are only part of the battle they will face as the pair tries to establish a credible team amidst a group of players who are equally unsure of their place in the world of professional athletes. The pressure is on all of them to perform well enough to sell the new-fangled all-girl concept to the American public.
However, the biggest strike against their success is the manager they are assigned. Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is a former baseball star with an alcohol problem. As the girls learn to work together, assess their priorities, and polish their skills, they rub off some of his rough spots--and some of their own too.
This film has all of the usual elements of sports movies: The big final play, the shy person that builds her confidence, and the uninterested coach that turns around in the end. Unfortunately for family viewers, the inclusion of some vulgarities may prevent A League of Their Own from scoring a home run.
Despite the lack of curve balls and some foul language, the film does mask much of its predictability and content with witty, sensitive portrayals of the emotional bonds that build as the characters grow. It also maintains interest by focusing on the script's historical roots. Telling the tale in a flash back, the film opens and closes with the team reuniting at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. These scenes are even more touching because the women shown are not the cast members aged by makeup or replaced with older actresses, but the actual women who played in the league all those years ago.
And don't forget to look for Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna amongst the lineup. The latter also contributes her musical talents as co-writer and performer of the award-nominated theme song "This Used To Be My Playground."