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EVERYONE'S HERO (article first published : 2007-02-5)

Baseball, family values and the motto that one should always strive to do one's best are topics at the heart of Everyone's Hero, a well-intentioned, but clichéd and unremarkable, new animated film.

It's only really of note for marking the final pet project, before his death, of wheelchair-bound actor Christopher Reeve who has a credit for co-directing it with Daniel St Pierre and Colin Brady.

Set in the Depression-era, the film has Brian Dennehy providing the voice of 30s American baseball hero Babe Ruth, a New York Yankees player whose favourite bat is stolen by Lefty Maginnis (William H Macy), pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, major rival of Ruth's team.

The loss of the bat sends Ruth's No 1 fan, Yankee Irving (Jake T Austin) on a quest to retrieve it.

And the 10-year-old, whose dad (Mandy Patinkin) works at Yankee Stadium, is joined on his cross-country journey by a … er … baseball, a comic sidekick that talks with the voice of Rob Reiner. We learn later that the missing bat, named Darlin', also talks - with the voice of Whoopi Goldberg.

Young Yankee's trek sees him making pals that include three bums who take him under their wing, a little girl with a powerful pitch and an amiable Detroit Tigers player (Forest Whitaker).

Featuring music by Wyclef Jean, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Brooks and Dunn, the film might hold some appeal for the very young, although few are likely to have even a clue as to who Babe Ruth was.

Sadly, however, Everyone's Hero remains a decidedly inferior offering. It's bland, predictable, delivers some stale jokes and, overall, is a good few rungs down the ladder of success achieved by such recent visual delights and witty wonders as Happy Feet and Flushed Away. (4/10) - Billy Suter




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