Thursday, September 21, 2006
  Everyone's Hero
Here's a review of Everyone's Hero, a cartoon movie that's currently in the theaters. I wrote it as part of a job "interview" so maybe I'll be lucky and land the assignment.

Either way, the movie was ok. A bit heavy handed on the "never quit swinging" messages, but not bad.

I did find the inclusive aspects of it refreshing. The story is a 'boy's boy" story, about baseball and hero worship. But two of the lead characters are girls. One the smart, snappy athletic daughter of a Negro League ball player who rescues the main character and teaches him how to watch the ball. The other is Babe Ruth's bat, who, being a bat, is a bit limited in what she can do; she mainly acts as a foil to the talking ball, and as the damsel in distress our hero has to rescue. Somehow, between the two, and a couple of mothers, the inclusion of girls/women in the story, even smart, self-reliant women/girls didn't feel like tokenism or idealized, pc versions of what society was supposed to look like. It made sense that a girl whose father is a professional ball player would know a lot about baseball.

On the racial front, I thought it was similarly refreshing. No pc one character from each race multiculturalism, but a selection of white and black characters all of whom were positive, appealing, intelligent and fun. Particularly nice was the fact that the black characters were neither over the top, nor did they speak pidgin English. They were just people.

I would be interested to see how people of color react to the movie. After all, it did not whitewash the fact that the black players were in one league and the whites in another, though it wasn't in your face about it either. I prefer this kind of historical realism, (and contemporary realism, as so many people in our country associate mainly with people of the same race) but can see the drawbacks... the white folks are going to the World Series -- the best baseball players in the world, while the black folks go to some obscure game of their own.

At the same time, the young hero of the movie, had no problem getting on a bus and driving across state with them, which in 1932 he surely would have... so there is a certain amount of whitewashing going on. He also could quote statistics about the black players as well as he could quote the statistics of the white players. I doubt that was very real.

But in the balance of things, I'd rather see a movie handling race in this manner than the over the top, gangsta talking, hyper sexed version of black characters that we all too often get.

Anyway, here's the review:

Everyone’s Hero Delivers a Home Run
By Pamela K. Taylor
Disney gave us talking mice, talking cats, and talking pigs. Pixar gave us talking ants and talking fish. Now from Christopher Reeve comes talking bats. Not the little animals that fly at night, but a baseball bat. Babe Ruth’s favorite baseball bat, to be exact.

Everyone’s Hero tells the story of diehard Yankees fan, 10 year-old Yankee Irving, the proverbial loser – always last chosen, always striking out, always made fun of. After a particularly disastrous game, Yankee finds, Screwie, a bitter National League washout who advises him to find a new hobby.

To make matters worse, Yankee’s father is unfairly fired from his position as janitor at Yankee Stadium after Lefty MaGinnis, pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, steals Babe Ruth’s bat, Darlin’, sinking the Yankees hopes of defeating the Cubs in the upcoming 1932 World Series.

Yankee, with the help of Screwie, Darlin’, a trio of friendly hobos, and the athletic daughter of a Negro League player, tracks down Lefty, rescues Darlin’, and treks from NY to Chicago to return the bat to his all-time hero. Along the way, he and his friends learn some important lessons about baseball, and life, and become heroes, each in his or her own right.
Everyone’s Hero, though at times a bit pedantic, gets an awful lot right. It’s a boy’s story through and through, all about baseball and childhood heroes, but Yankee is rescued from bullies and taught how to watch the ball by a smart, strong, snappy girl who’s sure to please female viewers.

Though most of the characters are white, Yankee encounters a black baseball team whose players are funny and clever without speaking Ebonics. The film also avoids the saccharine sweet dial-a-race multiculturalism that is so prevalent in children’s programming these days, while at the same time offering positive characters from a variety of backgrounds.

The humor is decidedly juvenile, ranging from farts and boogers, to a hilarious train-top chase scene where the villain performs Matrix-like moves to avoid signs, tree limbs, and other obstacles. It’s a relief to see a film where violence is not considered a laughing matter, and even less so sexual innuendo.

Best of all, it’s a story with many heroes. Babe Ruth is an awesome slugger, and a warm, caring, generous man. Yankee saves the day, but not without a lot of help from a variety of friends.

Diehard baseball fans may quibble with the stretching of facts – the Yankees actually swept the World Series in 1932, and the last second substitution of a ten-year-old during a World Series games is not only against the rules, but the sheerest of fantasies. But then again, it is a cartoon about a talking bat and ball.

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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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