Title: A League of Their Own
During World War II when men’s professional baseball is threatened with being closed down the team owners, lead by Wrigley candy avatar Walter Harvey, starts a women’s baseball league. The story follows the Rockford Peaches and, specifically, the sibling rivalry of the main characters Dottie and Kit. As well as the colorful misadventures of their drunken manager Jimmy Dugan.
Ages 9 and up
Normally I would be tempted to position this one for older kids due to some off-color references but we gave it a shot with our 9-year-old daughter and it is now her favorite movie.
Off-color references. Yes. But for the most part they’re simple innuendo that may go over the kids’ heads or use dated references that carry little meaning in a modern context. Some of the innuendo is related to the sexism the women encounter and is therefore integral to the central themes while others, mostly used by Jimmy Dugan, are played for laughs.
Speaking of Jimmy Dugan, he’s another of those hilarious Hollywood stereotypes, the lovable drunk. There is drinking and drunkenness (and even a little smoking) but it’s incidental and Jimmy’s antics are treated with such distain by the main characters that you could almost make a case for the movie as a temperance lecture. Almost.
One of the things that’s so appealing about this movie, especially for older audiences, is that it doesn’t exist solely in the soft-focus world of baseball hagiography where the magic of the game transcends all worldly ills. It could be argued that the movie wouldn’t work at all if it couldn’t graphically demonstrate the pervasive sexism the players encountered. This is one of the reasons I felt we could ignore the sexual innuendo and expose our kids to the historical reality of sexual discrimination. There’s an unashamed girl-power message here that doesn’t hit you over the head but simply offers the facts in a historical context and an engaging personal story. I’m sure this is why our daughter – who sort of resisted my insistence that we watch it – has changed her tune and is now claiming it as her favorite movie. And it’s not just talk, because later when she was given the opportunity to watch anything she chose to go back to it. She is also claiming that she’s always wanted to play baseball but I’m not entirely convinced this is true. She never expressed the least interest in baseball until we watched A League of Their Own and Merran showed them The Bad News Bears. In her current cinematic reality the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is still alive and well and Tatum O’Neal is showing up all the boys. It’s a lovely fantasy and I don’t want to ruin that by exposing her to actual baseball.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?
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Let me know what you think.