Mickey (March 19/05)
Mickey is one of those movies that begins to unravel almost immediately after the credits have rolled, as the viewer begins to question some of the film's more blatant plot holes (of which there are several). And while the movie is somewhat entertaining - particularly for fans of baseball, no doubt - it never quite becomes anything more than a passable time-waster.
Harry Connick Jr stars as Tripp Spence, a small town lawyer who discovers that the IRS is coming after him for failing to report almost $100,000 in earnings (he had to cut a few corners in order to care for his dying wife). Tripp decides that the best thing to do is flee, so he sets both himself and his son (played by Shawn Salinas) up with fake identities and heads out West. The two wind up in Las Vegas, and because his son's new identity marks him as a year younger than he actually is, Tripp signs the boy up for Little League - despite the fact that he's over the sport's age limit.
One of the few things that Mickey does effectively is take us inside the surprisingly competitive world of Little League Baseball, which appears to be as cut-throat as the big leagues. This includes a fascinating sequence in which the various coaches sit down and actually draft players into their respective teams, something that comes off as extremely ridiculous when you consider the average age of these kids seems to be around 12. Likewise, the movie does a nice job of capturing the way these players are turned into superstars - to the extent that they even have teenaged girls following them around like groupies.
But as intriguing as all that stuff is, it's not enough to disguise the simplistic plotting and black-and-white characterizations that are prevalent in John Grisham's screenplay (yes, that John Grisham). Because Mickey runs under two hours, there's just not enough time for Grisham to properly develop the film's various subplots; as a result, certain elements within the story come off as woefully under-developed (this is particularly true of the stuff involving the IRS' pursuit of Tripp and his son). Though Grisham's first draft of the script purportedly ran several times as long, it seems fairly clear that the movie would've benefited from a more streamlined focus on the ins-and-outs of a typical Little League Baseball season (and, in turn, less of an emphasis on superfluous subplots).
That Mickey remains somewhat engaging throughout is a testament to the effective performances and the care with which it's been made (this is despite an extremely obvious low budget). And while kids will probably get a kick out of the movie, it's impossible to whole-heartedly recommend the film to older viewers.