THE boy’s movie. Girls have no place in this world, except to exist as material to insult other boys: “You play ball like a GIRL!!!!” “What’d you say?” “You heard me.” Even Wendy Peffercorn only is there for obligatory ogling. The boys pretend to drool over girls only as an aside from baseball, and only for the opportunity to wow their fellow buds. (See Squint’s fantabulous stunt at the pool: “Little pervert!”) You must appreciate the perspective, if nothing else. It’s pure nostalgia, narrated from the perspective of a kid who never grew up. The memories are palpable and better-than-real. The Beast is a real beast, not a dog. The montage of events leading up to their eventual confrontation with The Beast is exactly how it happened in their heads, no matter what “actually” happened. There is something deeply mythic about childhood, and those who lose the perspective later are the real losers. If you can’t tell stories from those early years that could never be equaled or outdone, that’s a pity. The space of a baseball diamond where boys play is mythic, as not only the title here suggests but the sequence toward the finale when each of the boys disappears into thin air as the narration tells us where they went. Their place will always be that space, and even the one of them who made it to the big leagues can’t really enjoy it without the presence of his childhood (viz. Benny & Smalls); Small isn’t only a presence at the stadium, but the voice of the action. Even the details here, from Scotty Smalls’ fish hat to those little gestures like throwing the bats and gloves down angrily when their foes arrive on their field, are perfect. Even the chewing tobacco sequence works just right and includes a nice little moral. If you were ever a boy and ever loved baseball, and don’t love this movie, we can never be friends.