Based on its premise—A sports comedy about an underdog Orthodox Jewish baseball team—The Yankles could easily have been a disaster in the making. But, surprise, surprise, this (pardon the pun) “Bad Jews Bears” movie is a charmer—a sweet little film that handles its characters and situations with wit and taste.
The story revolves around Charlie (Brian Wimmer), a former baseball pro on parole following a DUI who is forced into community service as coach of The Yankles, a baseball team for an Orthodox Yeshiva seminary. They are, of course, unskilled and inept on the field. But with a lot of heart, and inspiration from the at-first-reluctant Charlie, guess how things turn out?
Yes, it’s predictable. Yes, it has some subplots that weren’t really necessary (especially Donnie Most, “The Happy Days’” Ralph Malph himself, as the angry ex-baseball player father of a rabbinical student).
But it’s cute. It’s fun. It’s family-friendly. The actors are likeable and natural, never forced or too broad—always a danger when portraying a specific ethnic or cultural group. And, as directed with a gentle touch by David R. Brooks, it’s an understated delight. Filmed in 2007, it’s a shame it took so long for this to get released on Blu-ray and DVD. While The Yankles could have easily been the film equivalent of Yankee Bill Buckner’s legendary fielding error that ultimately cost his team the 1986 World Series, this is a surprise gem—perhaps not a home run, but at least a solid base hit. That’s a blessing by anyone’s standards.Buy The Yankles [Blu-ray] on Amazon