Keanu Reeves fills the dramatic bases as a hopeless gambler given a shot at redemption, and a way out of debt, by teaching baseball to inner-city black kids. In return, they discover the benefits of teamwork while their teacher (Diane Lane) finally finds a man she can rely on. So everyone's a winner... as long as they all stick together. But that's the hard part.
This is a film that flatters only to deceive.
It starts rather promisingly with Keanu Reeves as a reckless gambler who invariably backs the wrong team.
As a result he is in serious hock to illegal bookies and loan sharks who threaten dreadful retribution if he doesn't pay up.
So far, so good. How will he wriggle out of this one?
Well, he wriggles out because a friend helps him stave off the menacing creditors by paying him $500 a week to act as baseball coach to a team of poor black kids from the 'hood'.
Do what? Nobody had even told us how Reeves earned the money to gamble, still less that he was a baseball coach.
But he takes the job - reluctantly, of course. Has to. And guess what? Slowly, bit by bit, these cute kids get to him.
So does their teacher, the splendid Diane Lane, wasted in a supporting role that amounts to little more than a cough and a spit.
So what started as a tough tale turns into a soft one.
Naturally, at a certain point Reeves decides to chuck it all in - but then one of the kids is accidentally murdered, and we just know that our hero will rise to the occasion.
We have visited this scenario before, have we not - the tale of an essentially good but misguided guy finding his own redemption while helping others to a sense of self-worth.
The current version adds nothing new, though in a role that hardly stretches him - and how far can he be stretched, I wonder? - Reeves is agreeable enough.