Never'd watched it 'til today. It's kinda 'Stand By Me' but baseball-centered and w/out all that melancholy 'end of era' stuff that permeates that one from '86.
Here you have: disparate, recognizably normal type kids playing baseball in the early sixties in southern California, doing normal kid things. You know- bonding, fighting, being scared of the Monster Dog next door, ogling the lifeguard, insulting each other, making things up about themselves that they've never done, trying tobacco, getting sick.
The Monster dog turns out to be a rather large, aggressive mastiff, the owner is a blind James Earl Jones, the McGuffin of the Ruth signed baseball the device that brings all of this together.
I liked the kids-Smalls, Benny, the Twins, Nunez, Squints, Hamilton esp. I thought their reactions to each other and the world around them to be refreshingly normal. We all did these sorts of things at that age and saw other kids doing them later on. The movie is nostalgic w/out drowning you inside it-the soundtrack does toss in 'Finger Popping Time', a couple of Drifters tunes and Wipeout, but it's all kinda well timed and doesn't feel forced.
You get to see Karen Allen and Denis Leary as the parents twice in the movie ala Charlie Brown's adults--which makes sense, really, this is the kids' world, not that of the folks'. I thought both were okay if somewhat under-used.
It all wraps up rather entertainingly though you do need to put your mind on hold a bit during the varied Rube Goldberg attempts at getting the ball back(thing pulleys, erector sets, long sticks, vaccuum cleaners, etc) and that marathon chase thru the cinema, fair and what not.
Check it out, you will like it and so will your kids. *** outta ****