This is by no means a new film, and it doesn’t have incredible animation. However, it is still one of my favorite animated movies ever. Directed by former Superman, Christopher Reeve, and employing the vocal talent of Whoopi Goldberg, Raven-Symoné, Rob Riener, Brian Dennehy, and Robin Williams, “Everyone’s Hero” is exploding with talent on every level.
This story is about a 12-year-old boy named Yankee Irving who loved baseball, but stunk at it. Then, he finds an old baseball, which for some inexplicable reason, can talk; and the story goes from there. Yankee’s dad gets blamed for something he didn’t do and gets fired. Yankee then goes on a mission, alone to clear his father’s name.
It’s a fast paced journey from New York to Chicago, with many laughs along the way. Now, it would be easy for me to say that this is just a fun movie, that it is entertainment for entertainment’s sake. But I don’t believe that any media is pointless or mindless. Every film has a message, and every filmmaker has a purpose. The thing about visual media is that every person directly involved in what you see on screen has a message they wish to send to the viewers.
The writers have their own message, the director has his, and the actors have theirs. These messages are manifest in different ways, but are present in every film. The writer writes for the content of the message, the director arranges for the context of the message, and the actor portrays the concept of the message. Many times, the result becomes three separate messages based off of the single starting point of the idea of the movie.
The message of the movie can be found by answering the question: who is everyone’s hero?
The Writer’s Message:
Yankee is a young boy who has given up on his dream, he meets a baseball who has stopped believing in dreams. The boy changes the baseball, and the baseball changes the boy. Yankee clears his father’s name, wins the World Series, and returns Babe Ruth’s lucky bat.
The story would lead you to believe that Yankee is everyone’s hero. The message then would be: don’t give up on your dreams, you can do anything if you believe in yourself, and that its okay for a 12-year-old boy to run away from home, travel from New York to Chicago, and as long as it all ends well, he didn’t do anything wrong. But the writers aren’t the only ones with a message.
The Director’s Message:
The director had a different plan in mind for his part in the message, and chose to make the movie and exposè of sorts. He complicated the message of the movie with the element of, “what is a hero?”. Yankee’s hero was Babe Ruth, but he doesn’t take the journey to help Babe Ruth, he does it for his father. So, who is really Yankee’s hero? Who is every child’s hero… Or should be? The director wanted to emphasize that a hero, and an idol are different things. Coming from a former Superman, that is understandable. Christopher Reeve, as an actor, understood what it meant to play the hero. A hero is someone everyone looks up to until they mess up. One mistake and you can fall from hero to pathetic excuse for a hero. But, he also understood that the true hero is always there for the people even if they don’t think he is special. He is a hero because they need him, not because they want him.
So, the director’s message is that sometimes our “heroes” mess up and they stop believing in themselves, so we stop believing in them. Bottom line, you can’t always count on your heroes to be there for you, if your heroes are just men. But, if your heroes are a symbol, if they stand for something, that truth, that dream, will always be there for you to count on. So, who is everyone’s hero according to the director? Everyone’s hero, is the person who always be there for you, no matter what.
The Actor’s Message:
The actors and actresses in any film combine both the intended message of the writers, and the direction that the director wants to take that message, and they meld it to fit their character. In this film, a boy looses hope in his dream, but his courage inspires a baseball to believe in hope again. The baseball then encourages the boy to not give up on his dream. In the eyes of Rob Reiner, (the baseball), he was everyone’s hero. It was his actions that directly affected Yankee and changed the scope of the movie.
However, Babe Ruth was Yankee’s hero, and it was his stolen bat that set Yankee on the journey to begin with. He inspired a young boy to dream, not just to play baseball. If Yankee hadn’t been at the sandlot playing, he never would’ve found the talking baseball. So, Brian Dennehy, (Babe Ruth), probably felt that he was the hero.
The message of the actors: everyone is a hero in their own eyes. A bit prideful, but it’s true of most of us. Either we think we are heroes, or we want to be.
Finding the Message:
It takes either a keen eye, or a sharp sense of reasoning skills to determine, or simply spot the message of a movie. But there are certain tip-off points that we can notice if we know where to look.
When you swing and miss and fall flat on your face, you just a get back up and keep swinging. Perserverance, even in the catch line of the film we see the theme of perseverance. That the main character was 12-years-old was important. The film, through him, said that anyone can be a hero. It doesn’t take superpowers… Just a little courage, the right motives, and perseverance. Now… This doesn’t have to end with me finding a plot hole, or picking apart the character’s motives, (though most of my reviews do tend to end up there), this time… I’m just going to leave this review half finished and let you complete it. I want you to watch this movie, you will enjoy it, and then come back with your comments: let me know what you think. Who is everyone’s hero? What is a hero? What does it take to be a hero?
This is my test to you. How do you watch movies? Could you easily explain the worldview of a film after a single viewing? If not, perhaps you’re not watching for the right things or in the right way. So, watch it, let me know what you find in it.
As always, thanks for reading, and remember to watch movies with your eyes open.
–the anonymous novelist