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The Babe ()

directed by
featuring John Goodman, Kelly McGillis, Trini Alvarado, Bruce Boxleitner, Peter Donat

John Goodman is cast as the Sultan of Swat, whose excesses -- especially drinking -- and private demons can (in this context) be excused in view of his genuine love of baseball. The facts never get in the way of a good story for screenwriter John Fusco; we're even offered the umpteenth rehash of "Little Johnny", the largely fanciful tale of the invalid boy who promises to get well if Babe hits him a homer (as in Pride of the Yankees, the cured Johnny makes return a appearance as grownup). The most amusing fabrication is the casting of narrow James Cromwell as the Babe's orphanage mentor Brother Mathias, who in real life weighed 300 pounds. Many of the characters are composites, notably Bruce Boxleitner's Jumpin' Joe Dugan. At least Ruth's two wives--Trini Alvarado as Helen, who suffers Babe's many peccadilloes and dies under strange circumstances, and Kelly McGillis as Claire, who keeps Babe on a very short leash-are depicted with a modicum of accuracy. The baseball sequences are well handled (though there could have been less slo-mo) while Elmer Bernstein's charmingly old-fashioned musical score is right in tune with the film's approach to its subject. The Babe is rated PG; had this been the whole truth and nothing but, and R rating would probably have been in order. Hal Erickson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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