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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris


St. Petersburg Times Online

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Foul language leaves 'Hardball' far from a home run

By BILLY NORRIS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 17, 2001


Movie: Hardball

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Conor O'Neill (Keanu Reeves) is a drunk and a gambler who digs himself deeper holes every day of his life. After blowing nearly $12,000 on bad bets, he's in some trouble. He turns to an old pal at a financial securities company for a loan. His friend agrees to help him out under one condition: He must coach a baseball team in the housing projects that the company sponsors. Conor agrees and gets $500 a week to coach this misfit team, who call themselves the Kekambas. The team begins to win, and they're off on a race to the "ship" (championship) while Conor is off on a race for his life.

My view: This movie was inspired by a nonfiction book written by Daniel Coyle, A Season in the Projects, about the formation of a Little League baseball organization filled with Chicago's inner-city kids in the early 1990s. I think it's a good idea, though, to view this film with the mindset that it's a total piece of fiction, since there's no way to know what is fact and what is fiction without reading the book first. I liked the movie's story, but the kids on the baseball team used extreme profanity, and a lot of it, which certainly takes away from the family values and lessons that could be learned here. I believe this is one of Reeves' better movies, although he doesn't really show much deep emotion.

Favorite part: There was one kid on the baseball team who pitched with his Walkman headphones on and danced every time he threw a pitch. This kid was really funny!

Least favorite part: The ending of this movie was incredibly unexpected. I can't tell you what happened without spoiling it, but it left me feeling extremely sad.

Recommendations: Even though this is a movie about kids and baseball, I don't think it's appropriate for elementary school kids mainly because of the language. I recommend this for older kids as a good movie to see on a rainy day when you've got nothing else to do.

Grade: B-

- Billy Norris, 13, is in the eighth grade at Seminole Middle School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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