Plot: Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has been placed in a foster home, as his absentee father has given up on providing a proper home. Although he can see this with his own eyes, Roger refuses to give up hope, despite his father telling him the hapless Angels will win a pennant before the two are reunited as a family. This makes Roger reach out to the divine for assistance, so he prays for the Angels to turn around their season, both as a son and a fan of the team. The next game he attends, Roger notices some strange sights and it seems like angels of some kind are lending the players a hand, though he is the only one able to see these events. To the rest of the crowd, it looks like the players have found some hidden talent, but Roger knows it is the angels and that his prayer seems to have been answered. But can the Angels capture the pennant and even if so, does that mean Roger will finally have a real family?
Entertainment Value: If you like baseball, Disney, and Jesus, you will likely appreciate this remake, as it puts the emphasis on the power of prayer and light, forgettable moments of humor. The movie isn’t bad, but it is so heavy handed with the religious elements, rarely is there a scene that doesn’t preach at us to pray, put family first, and mind our manners. The vibe is positive, so it doesn’t trash non believers, but it is just so relentless with the push, it can be absurd at times. I’ve seen similar movies where faith led to sweeping changes like this, but not all of those films beat us over the head with a blunt, constant message like this. I think the underdog sports thread works the best here, as the baseball team has some colorful characters and talented performers behind them, so those scenes are humorous. So if you can deal with the aggressive faith assault, there is some light fun to be had here, though to me, Angels in the Outfield doesn’t leave much of an impression. I’d put it on par with similar second tier, live action Disney efforts, as it has some moments, but doesn’t spark much. I’d recommend this to those in search of family friendly, brisk entertainment and that don’t mind the consistently preachy faith driven elements. Or of course, anyone who needs to see every Tony Danza movie, which is hopefully a lot of folks.
I revisited this as part of my Tony Danza retrospective, so I might be biased, but I always like seeing Danza turn in up in movies. His role here is more serious and restrained than his usual work, so his comedic charm is not on full showcase here. He does have one of the film’s more memorable moments, when he has a speech at the press conference that has an old school flair to it. I wouldn’t say his work here is remarkable, but he does well and especially since he isn’t able to play to his strengths as much, I think he carries the character well enough. I would have liked more of his comic side and that confident charm, but his fans should still appreciate this performance. Christopher Lloyd is the main source of comic relief and he runs way over the top, an almost pure slapstick effort as the lead angel. I didn’t love all of his scenes, but his energy is good and I’m sure younger viewers might appreciate his antics more. You can also see Adrien Brody and Matthew McConaughey in small roles as baseball players, giving the movie some interest to those fans as well. The cast of this one also includes Danny Glover, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Dermot Mulroney.