Loved it as a kid, but does it still hold up well?
Major League (1989) was a huge success upon release and with good reason; it was the ultimate underdog story but done right. The characters were all believable, the dialogue ringed true, the acting was great and the story, which seems unbelievable, only need to look at Leicester City to see how fairytales can come true. So it was only natural that a sequel would come. The problem is doing the underdog story twice over and making it work.
After winning the division title last season, the Cleveland Indians baseball team are looking to do one better and make the world series but standing in their way are egos, money, the Chicago White Sox and changes - and there are plenty.
Recently retired Roger Dorn is the new owner after having bought the club from Rachel Phelps in the off-season; speedster Willie Mays Hayes spent his free time shooting an action movie with Jesse Ventura and hurt his knee; Heartthrob and bad boy Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughan has turned into a yuppie and has a model girlfriend, which has affected his pitching; Pedro Cerrano converted to buddhism after ditching his Voodoo ways; while veteran backstop Jake Taylor is pondering his future after the club signed another two catchers.
If you're reading the above and wondering “Huh?” ...Exactly!!! All the above occurred during the off-season. There's so many character changes, it's hard to keep up.
One of the best things about the original was the truthful interactions between the characters, it was guys being guys. It’s how you would talk to your mates. The sequel was the opposite. It all seemed too forced and over the top. Just didn’t seem truthful. It was cliche city. Director David S. Ward just made this film too PG and family orientated.
Then there's the actors appearance. They look much too older. Major League II was released five years after the original, so obviously the performers were going to age but the problem is the film is meant to take place the very next season, so that would make it 1990. Most of the characters looked much older and, umm, not exactly thin.
Some actors didn't come back. Wesley Snipes didn't return so Omar Epps took the mantle. He did okay but he had some big shoes to fill and he was no Wesley Snipes.
Veteran pitcher Eddie Harris, from the first film, didn't return and more than likely retired. His religious banter with Cerrano in the first film was one of the main highlights, so they brought in another character to fill that gap – an import from Japan, Isuro Tanaka. I have to say their interactions were actually pretty funny. Also Rene Russo, who played Jake's love interest from the first film, only makes a cameo – it's real blink and you'll miss it scene.
There are some positives. Along with the Cerrano/Tanaka banter and announcer Bob Uecker returning as Harry Doyle, Randy Quaid appears, uncredited, as a crazed Cleveland Indians fan and is a laugh riot and boy did the movie need a genuine funny character. His constant badgering of, out of form, Rick Vaughan are the best moments in the film.
Other highlights are Nikki Reese, who is trying win back the heart of Rick Vaughan. She's clearly heartbroken and just wants her man back – it's the Jake Taylor/Lynn storyline all over again from the first movie but a nice addition. And then there's Jack Parkman; the villain of the film.
Brought into the club to replace Jake Taylor, his smug attitude and selfish behaviour does him no favours with his team mates and management. Eventually he gets traded to the Chicago White Sox. That forces catcher Rube Baker, who is addicted to reading articles in porn magazines and who has a problem with throwing the ball back to the pitcher, to take the mantle for the Indians. I must say, the new characters were a welcome addition as the returning ones were pretty stale.
In closing, Major League II doesn't come close to reaching the heights of the first film, which is a shame. Director David S. Ward, was probably under studio pressure to make it more PG, could only do so much but there are some real laugh out loud funny moments which saves the movie from dying a horrible death (the all out brawl between all the Cleveland Indians players in a middle of a match). It's a movie I enjoyed as a kid but it just doesn't hold up well 23 years later.
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