Picks and Pans Review: Major League Ii

updated 04/18/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/18/1994 01:00AM

Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Michelle Burke, Alison Doody, James Gammon, David Keith, Dennis Haysbert, Margaret Whitton, Bob Uecker, Charlie Sheen

This sequel is everything its 1989 progenitor wasn't: stiff, slow, pompous, vulgar, dull. The locus is still a fictionalized version of the futility-ridden Cleveland Indians. Now, however, the Indians, having won a divisional championship in the original, have a new problem—arrogance and complacency.

While Wesley Snipes is now apparently too big a star for this kind of thing, most of the '89 cast returns. Berenger is the weary veteran catcher, Gammon the grizzled manager, Haysbert the Latin slugger whose voodoo beliefs have given way to Buddhism and pacifism. Omar Epps is the flashy center fielder Willie Mays Hayes, who has turned to action-film acting in the off-season. Sheen, the team's ace pitcher, whose nickname Wild Thing was adopted by real-life Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams, is now a stuffy, image-conscious social climber who has forsaken his history teacher girlfriend, Burke, in favor of his glamorous blond agent, Doody, and lost his fastball. Whitton, the cynical owner whose attempt to scuttle the team motivated its success, sells the team to suave third baseman Bernsen, but then buys it back and, in a convoluted twist, still roots for the franchise to fail. She has many more wardrobe changes than she has decent lines. Rene Russo returns for an uncredited bit as Berenger's girlfriend, and Uecker is again the bumbling play-by-play announcer, though this time he is so vulgarized he responds to one opposing hit by blurting, "Oh, s—-!" (The lame screenplay by R.J. Stewart is heavy on excremental "humor.")

Major league baseball has amply demonstrated that you can't expand your product without diluting its quality. David S. Ward, director of both these films, has now unnecessarily restated that proposition. (PG)

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