Awfully Good: Angels in the Outfield

Relive some retro Joseph Gordon-Levitt as you froth at the mouth in anticipation for LOOPER!

Angels in the Outfield (1994)

Director: William Dear
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Danny Glover, Tony Danza

God cheats at baseball so a young boy can finally be loved by his father.

I don't necessarily take joy in hating on a kids movie (especially considering I remember loving ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD myself as a child), but sometimes it's hard to ignore something like this. Nostalgia be damned.

Eventually Doc Brown mastered time AND space.

In case you forgot, the title of ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD is not a metaphor for anything—it's literally sparkly cherubs engaging in America's national pastime. And it's all Joseph Gordon-Levitt's fault. The young actor plays Roger, a foster kid living in a group home with the boy who gave Shaquille O'Neal the stink-eye in that one Pepsi commercial. Roger's mom is dead and his dad (played by a young Dermot Mulroney) is a deadbeat, driving around the country on his motorcycle without a helmet. One day he makes an offhanded comment that he'll come back and take care of his son "when the Angels win the pennant." Not bright enough to detect the world's most dickish case of sarcasm, Roger takes this as a challenge and in the grand Disney tradition he tearfully wishes upon a star (of Bethlehem) for the Angels to take home ultimate victory. And the next day a winged Christopher Lloyd shows up to play ball.

Hell, the film's tagline is, “It could happen!” Which is essentially Disney saying, “Yeah, this is freaking stupid, but whatever. Money.”

Even Matthew McConaughey wonders why he made SAHARA.

All in all, this movie isn't that bad or different compared to most 90s kids movies…except for all the sacrilege. Because when you think about it, ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD is a movie about a divine moral deity constantly cheating. (Ignoring the fact that He has nothing better to do than pay attention to baseball.) Even if you claim it's God's Will and therefore can't be cheating, the Almighty doesn't just give the Angels a little bump. No, Al and his heavenly host embarrass other teams in to defeat. It's pretty Old Testament stuff. And just what are the rules here? Is God helping them out because the team is called the Angels? If they were the Tigers would he send giant man-eating felines to run around the infield? What if two kids from opposing teams made a wish to God? Would the universe implode? And the most obvious, why doesn't JGL just pray that his dad will love him?


If you think I'm being snarky for the sake of humor, I am, but the movie really does hilariously attempt to shove in some ground rules at the last minute in order to teach kids that cheating is NOT sanctioned by the church. After months of literally carrying the Angels on their shoulders, Christopher Lloyd shows up alone during the final game to tell Roger that there’s a random commandment that says angels can’t help during championship play. (Seriously, it was #11.) As if complete abandonment without warning wasn't bad enough, Lloyd then proceeds to tell the 8 year old that hero pitcher Tony Danza is going to GET CANCER AND DIE in the next six months and Roger's not allowed to say anything. Moments later they win the pennant and everyone's cheering and happy—except you because you know the game MVP is headed for his first round of chemo. What the hell kind of family movie is this!?

"Yep, I already wore these boxers."

The one legitimately fun part of ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD is spotting some future stars. The team roster boasts a young Adrien Brody, Matthew McConaughey (who, according to the rules of his ironclad contract, does appear shirtless) and the great Neal McDonough, who plays a ginger doofus that could be a cousin to his role in BALLOON FARM. You also get more seasoned vets like The Boss, Tony Danza, and team manager Danny Glover. Glover spends the entire movie fighting with everyone and yelling about how much he hates kids. So of course he's the perfect guy to adopt Roger and the Pepsi kid at the end of the movie. Sometimes God has a funny sense of humor.

Always a method actor, McDonough gets in character to play "Dum Dum" Dugan.

Adrien Brody says "emotionally evocative" and Danny Glover gets possessed by the spirit of Christopher Lloyd.

See a young Matthew McConaughey, Adrien Brody and Neal McDonough in this angelic sports highlight reel.

Still the Boss, even in the bathtub.

From the director of BALLOON FARM! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • JP says “It could happen”
  • An angel intervenes
  • Danny Glover loses his temper
  • Someone has food spilled n them
Double shot if:
  • Somebody goes home

Thanks to Jesse and Sergio for suggesting this week's movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: Perhaps some kid somewhere made a wish that his wannabe referee father would get a job as a replacement ref in the NFL?
Source: JoBlo.com
Tags: awfully good



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