Light and airy, with only the faintest whiff of pathos or self-importance, A League of Their Own offers a refreshingly buoyant vision of America’s favorite pastime. Unburdened by the grandiose mythologizing of movies like The Natural and Field of Dreams, the film regards baseball with a breezy, wide-eyed innocence that captures the uniquely languid joy of the sport.
Working from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, director Penny Marshall casts the Rockford Peaches—a founding team in the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)—as a ragtag ensemble filled with stock comic types, including Rosie O’Donnell as a brassy New Yawk broad and Madonna as an incorrigible floozy. The performances tend toward broad caricature, particularly Tom Hanks’s at times gratingly over-the-top turn as the team’s perpetually apoplectic manager, Jimmy Dugan. All shouting, spitting, and drunken ass-grabbing, Jimmy is a cartoonish parody of American masculinity that anticipates Hanks’s similarly out-sized but more delicately modulated voice work in Toy Story a few years later.