ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: A broken bone turns into a lucky break for a 12-year-old Little Leaguer when his healed arm is capable of delivering a 100 m.p.h. fast pitch! Soon the pint-sized dreamer is the Chicago Cubs' new star, and his last-place team is headed for victory.
THE SCOUT: Director Michael Ritchie, famous for his contribution to the sports comedy genre with THE BAD NEWS BEARS, turns his attention to the world of professional baseball with this lighthearted romp. While in Mexico, Al Percolo (Albert Brooks), a down-on-his-luck talent scout, discovers Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser), a dream-come-true baseball pitcher. Percolo quickly signs Nebraska to a multimillion-dollar deal with the New York Yankees, but the truth about Nebraska quickly comes to light. As talented a pitcher as Nebraska may be, with his 109 m.p.h. fastball and ambidextrous skills, his childlike temper and suspicious past keep him from reaching his true potential. They also prevent him from passing the psychological evaluation, to the dismay of Percolo. Striking a deal with a grudging doctor, Nebraska is eventually cleared to play, but his fear of failure and inability to perform under pressure threaten to ruin his chance at a professional career.
As the aging scout, Brooks delivers another memorable performance. He is matched by Fraser, whose immature Nebraska forms a deeply emotional attachment to his discoverer in a sensitive, yet humorous, way. With THE SCOUT, Ritchie proves once again that he is one of Hollywood's most multidimensional directors.
LIKE MIKE: Fourteen-year-old Calvin Cambridge (Lil' Bow Wow) spends his days at the orphanage waiting to be adopted and shooting hoops with his best friend, Murph (Jonathan Lipnicki). When he starts to wear a pair of sneakers that used to belong to a famous basketball player and bear the initials M.J.--ostensibly those of basketball legend Michael Jordan--Calvin's wildest dreams begin to come true. The 4'8" teenager is suddenly an unstoppable force on the basketball court and soon finds himself an indispensable member of the L.A. Knights, a floundering NBA team. As long as Calvin has his magic sneakers, he believes he can do anything and be "like Mike." Ultimately, despite his newfound fame and fortune, Calvin still yearns for a family to call his own. Morris Chestnut stars as Tracey Reynolds, Calvin's mentor on the Knights team, and Crispin Glover is sufficiently creepy as Bittleman, the greedy head of the orphanage. Basketball fans will love the game footage and multiple cameos from real NBA stars like Allen Iverson and Jason Kidd. Rap star Lil' Bow Wow is impressive in his film debut, and also contributes songs to the soundtrack.