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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Lionsgate's 'Perfect Game': Bumped to season's end?

July 24, 2008 |  1:38 pm

Perfect_game_2 Ever since I took my baseball-crazed 10-year-old and his pals to see a screening of Lionsgate's "The Perfect Game," he's been urging all his Little League buddies to see the movie, which does a nice job of telling the soul-stirring story of a ragtag bunch of kids from Monterrey, Mexico who assemble a Little League team that--shockingly--wins the 1957 Little League World Series. It feels like a fable, but it's actually a true story, with the poverty-stricken kids overcoming all sorts of obstacles and blatant prejudice to win 13 consecutive games, the last one a perfect game, hence the title.

There's only one problem: Lionsgate has suddenly bumped the movie from its Aug. 8 release date and won't say when the film will be released. It's rarely a good sign when a studio bails out of a release date at the last moment, especially when it won't say why. All I could get out of a high-level Lionsgate exec was a terse: "The studio expects to have news about a new date soon."

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if Lionsgate is going to release the movie, it will have to do so by mid-October, which would be the height of major league playoff time. It may be that Lionsgate is experiencing some growing pains as it has ramped up its release schedule, which seems to have another "Saw" sequel and a new Tyler Perry project every other month. (The studio just signed a new deal with Perry, who's been a consistent box-office performer.) Before moving "The Perfect Game," the studio had three movies in August, four movies in September and three more scheduled for release in October, including Oliver Stone's much-anticipated "W." For a small-sized studio like Lionsgate, three or four movies in a month is quite a crowd.

I'm hoping Lionsgate will do right by "The Perfect Game." It's a movie with a lot of heart and a great young cast of kids, whom my son's friends all somehow recognized from their appearances on various Disney Channel shows. For us oldsters, it has Cheech Marin as a twinkly-eyed Monterrey parish priest who makes sure the boys always have a guardian angel watching over their shoulders.

For baseball purists, here's an extended trailer from the film that features some great vintage footage from the glory days of '50s baseball: