By Michael Sauter
Updated February 12, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Hardball: Chuck Hodes

There was no reason to expect much from a movie starring Keanu Reeves as a luckless gambler paying off his debts by reluctantly coaching a baseball team full of foulmouthed ghetto kids. After all, its basic formula was already getting tired before the ”Bad News Bears” went to Japan. But with some inner-city grit and some flashes of genuine heart (and thankfully without an obligatory big-game finale), Hardball rises above, say, ”The Mighty Ducks.” Reeves will never be as good as Walter Matthau was, but working with these urban moppets, he hits his stride.

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