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Baseball comedy 'Undrafted' strikes out swinging

Baseball comedy 'Undrafted' strikes out swinging
Jim Belushi, left, and Aaron Tveit in "Undrafted." (Vertical Entertainment)

Drawing upon his own brother's experiences as a once-promising college baseball player, actor Joe Mazzello's directorial debut, "Undrafted" is an amiable if aimless ensemble comedy that's unable to overcome its amateur status.

When we're first introduced to the fictional D-Backs, a heavily white  post-collegiate summer league team about to face off against the rival Bulldogs in a playoff game, the ragtag ensemble is distracted by the news that star player John Mazetti (Aaron Tveit) didn't get selected in the major league draft.

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Not that this decidedly dysfunctional group wouldn't have issues on its best day, what with a short-tempered outfielder (Mazzello), conceited hottie power hitter (Chace Crawford), bigmouth player-coach (Duke Davis Roberts) and assorted comic relief benchwarmers (Matt Bush, Matt Barr) on the roster.

But the greatest challenge being faced turns out to be not knowing what story to tell.

Mazzello, a former child actor who played  Richard Attenborough's grandson in the original "Jurassic Park," spends a lot of time beefing up the male camaraderie with all its inherent squabbling and goofing around, but his efforts to lend dramatic weight to the frustrations faced by Tveit's character are less successful.

The scenes between the overlooked Mazetti and his father (Jim Belushi) feel like they were dropped in at a later date rather than being organic to the script, penned by Mazzello.

Although his photogenic, personable cast is easy to root for, as underdog sports movies go, the unfocused "Undrafted" ultimately possesses all the dramatic intrigue of an intentional walk.

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'Undrafted'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: Vintage Los Feliz Theatre, Los Angeles

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