Don't unfairly sideline Hardball, Keanu Reeves' third sports-themed vehicle, with quick comparisons to The Bad News Bears or thinking it a Dangerous Minds on the baseball field. The flick has its own personality. Playing flawed gambling addict Conor O'Neill in this true-life, white-guy-in-the-ghetto dramedy, Reeves seems to revel in his character's rough edges.
Up to his nose in debt, he pays back a friend's loan by coaching his Little League team, made up of boys from Chicago's Cabrini Green projects. Sure, Reeves fouls out with his forced love interest, Diane Lane. But his heartwarming interaction and involvement with these mostly amateur young actors--especially DeWayne Warren, who becomes the living, breathing heart of the movie--is a line drive.