Disney’s Angels in the Outfield came out in 1994 and is full of everything that you’d expect when you think of a kid’s sports movie and 90’s Disney. It’s an underdog’s story with slapstick jokes that gets pretty cheesy. But it’s chalk full of charm and movie stars. So let’s dive into the SBS Film Vault and rewatch a nice Christian baseball flick.
Angels in the Outfield is the story of Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young kid from a broken home who loves the local baseball team even though they are in last place. Roger just wants to have a family to call his own because his dead-beat dad ditched him and sarcastically answers the question of “when are we going to be a family again?” with “when the Angels win the pennant.” And that will never happen because the Angels stink. No hitting, no pitching, no chemistry. Nothing. But one night, while praying, Roger asks God for a family and explains that can only happen if the Angels win, “so maybe you could help them win a little?”.
This is when things get real wild. Roger goes to the next game and sees a pair of real life angels help the baseball Angels win a game! But no one else can see them but Roger. Christopher Lloyd plays Al, the head angel who talks with Roger. He explains that Roger asked for help so they are here to help. Through some crazy circumstances, Angels manager, George Knox (Danny Glover), discovers that Roger is responsible for the divine intervention and starts bringing him to every game. Roger quickly becomes an integral part of the team and even has a special sign for when he sees his flying friends.
Talk about a loaded roster, this movie is packing serious firepower from top to bottom. Leadoff with Danny Glover, then star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, followed by Christopher Lloyd. Oh yeah also Matthew McConaughey, Adrien Brody, Dermot Mulroney, Neal McDonough, Ben Johnson, Tony Longo, Brenda Fricker (the Pigeon Lady from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) and Taylor Negron. Plus the jerky sports announcer guy is played by fantastic character actor Jay O. Sanders. Also, Tony Fucking Danza is in it. Ever heard of him? Most folks agree, he’s the boss.
Give me a second. I’m too star-struck to think right now.
This is the official *****SPOILER ALERT***** If you haven’t seen the movie yet and/or want to watch it with virgin eyes then skip this section. Now, that the children are gone, let’s unpack all the wacky things this movie tries to pull off.
In the last game of the season, Al shows up to talk to Roger, he explains no angels are coming to help because it’s a championship game (for the division crown) but that he is there to keep an eye on Danza’s character, pitcher Mel Clark, who will die in 6 months and is picked to become an angel. As Roger tries to process this, Al continues to say that Clark smoked for years. And that’s basically it. They just drop this huge bombshell on this kid, then use all that as an anti-smoking campaign. It’s crazy.
That’s not even the most insane thing about this movie. At the end, Danny Glover adopts the fucking kids and everyone is cool with it. This rage-aholic baseball manager gets to adopt two kids even though he has no partner and he works 9 months of the year.
Angels in the Outfield is part of the strange sub-genre of orphan/lost kid sports films. There is something about a child with a broken home that makes them the ultimate underdog. My last thought about this picture is that it flirts with being anti-sports and competition. It’s not fair for one team to have supernatural assistance. At least let the other side use steroids to level the playing field. I want Roger to have a family but not at the cost of the integrity of baseball.