Even as little as a decade ago, a new animated film was a minor occasion. But in the age of Cartoon Network, 10 Land Before Time sequels, and a new theatrical CGI adventure practically every other week, there's no excuse for wasting time or money on weak, halfhearted dreck like Everyone's Hero. The standards for kids' entertainment are pretty low, but even in a Yu-Gi-Oh! world, filmmakers can and should do better than this animated time-waster.
Everyone's Hero opens in a generic Depression-era New York, where pint-sized baseball fan Yankee Irving is getting picked last for a sandlot game. The other peewee players hate him, but he can't take a hint any more than he can take a swing without hitting himself in the back of the head with the bat. But after they disgustedly abandon him, he finds a baseball that mysteriously has an expressive face and the exasperated voice of Rob Reiner. Like Irving, the baseball, "Screwie," wanted to be a major-league star. Instead, it ended up as an embittered, abandoned foul ball.
Surprise, surprise… ball and kid both get to make their dreams come true when an unscrupulous Chicago Cubs pitcher (William H. Macy), goaded on by the Cubs' rotund owner (Robin Williams), steals Babe Ruth's lucky bat "Darlin'" to jinx him during the Yankees-on-Cubs World Series. Irving ends up with the bat (which has a feminine face and a faux-Southern drawl courtesy of Whoopi Goldberg) and a mandate to return it to Ruth (Brian Dennehy) before the Yankees blow the series. Irving's subsequent development from sandlot loser to inspirational World Series pinch-hitter isn't contrived, so much as it's lazy and half-assed. It's as though the filmmakers (ostensibly including Christopher Reeve, though he can't have had too much direct involvement before his 2004 death) knew there was no justifying such a shamelessly inane twist, so they didn't bother trying.
The same goes for most of Everyone's Hero, which ranges from improbable to nonsensical to just plain dull. The bland, generic animation certainly doesn't help. Neither do the lame banter, the one-note characters, the predictable clumsy stabs at emotional uplift, or the booger jokes. It's a shallow, treacly movie for children too little to question its many pointless puerilities. But do kids that young really belong in a theater? Keep 'em at home and wait for this to hit cable.