Eddie review

Eddie's producers have created a real monster: an unholy amalgam of Major League and Sister Act. It'll be a guaranteed money earner in the States, of course (where basketball is big news), but a dismal script and comatose direction doom it to fail on this side of the Atlantic as both as a sports comedy and a vehicle for Goldberg's so-familiar portrayal of - - get this! - - an inspirational outsider who turns zeros into heroes.

The Knicks we meet at the start are a bunch of Major League-style comedy jocks, complete with the obligatory vain superstar and dodgy-kneed veteran. When Wild Bill (Langella) stages a crass "Honorary Coach" contest (a stunt aimed at reviving the team's fortunes), John Bailey (Farina) resigns in protest. He's replaced by the chauffeur who impressed Bill with her understanding of the team's flaws on a drive from the airport. Enter Goldberg, as gob-happy as ever.

Initially, the Knicks ignore Whoopi, and their losing streak continues. But then she delivers a couple of rousing team talks, effortlessly saves a key player's marriage and - - hey! - - the boys start playing like Michael Jordan.

It's all pretty unconvincing, relying on paper-thin characterisation and about half-a-dozen decent gags. That's one laugh for each of the six scriptwriters. Indeed, these sorry scribes have such a lousy sense of drama that the film's only plot twist - - Wild Bill (just like the boss in Major League) wants to move the Knicks to another State - - is resolved moments after it appears. You can't blame Langella for looking bored when he's given Scooby Doo lines like, ""I own you, Eddie, just like I own the team!"" - - and you can't blame the audience for nodding off when these Knicks are played by overly tall men whose calling isn't acting but the arcane art of slam-dunking. Meanwhile, Goldberg is asked to make Eddie funny and saintly - - she's a hero cop's widow and coaches a team for underprivileged kids - - which is a task doomed to failure.

Inevitably, the film's highlight is the final half-hour of on-court action, with the Knicks encountering real-life NBA stars, but even this isn't enough to save this rather wretched little picture. Indeed, so flat is helmer Steve Rash's direction, you get the feeling he could turn an England-versus-Germany World Cup play-off into a sluggish "Snails Of Our Hedgerows" Survival Special.

Gather together an assortment of overpaid, vain sports stars, give Whoopi Goldberg another chance to crack wise and... endure 102 minutes of laugh-free pap.

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