Film with local ties to screen at Bella Terra

Think of it as "The Bad News Bears" set to Klezmer music.

Somewhat like the 1976 comedy film about the national pastime, which starred Walter Matthau as Coach Morris Buttermaker, "The Yankles" is about a washed-up ex-professional ballplayer who makes a comeback of sorts on the baseball diamond.

If you watch the trailer to this 2009 independent film made by two brothers from the Huntington Beach area, you might see shades of Buttermaker in Coach Charlie Jones.

What's different about this protagonist is that the hopeless players on his team are deeply religious grown-ups with side curls, not bleached-blond Little Leaguers from Southern California who cuss and get into dust-ups.

According to a synopsis of the film, Jones (played by Brian Wimmer) is a former professional player on parole for a series of drunk-driving convictions. He finds himself fulfilling his 192 hours of mandatory community service by coaching The Yankles, a baseball team predominated by Orthodox Jews.

Under Jones' leadership, they punch a ticket to the College World Series. Oy vey.

On Jan. 22, moviegoers in Orange County will have an opportunity to see the 115-minute film in full at a cinema in Huntington Beach. Westminster-based Temple Beth David is organizing a one-time screening of the film, which has garnered nine awards at various film festivals, at the Bella Terra Century Theatre.

Filmmakers David R. Brooks, a Westminster resident who directed, co-produced and co-wrote "The Yankles," and his brother Zev, a Fountain Valley resident who co-wrote and co-produced the film, will appear afterward for questions and answers.

The screening will serve as a fundraiser for the temple, a reformist synagogue off the San Diego (405) Freeway where women hold the rabbi and cantor posts. One of the temple's congregants, Alan Jarrick of Huntington Harbour, is one of the film's investors.

Organizers of the benefit screening said that non-Jews and other members of the general public are welcome to attend the screening.

The film previously was screened in October 2010 at the Lido Theatre in Newport Beach.

Zev Brooks said in an email that he tried to enter "The Yankles" in this year's Newport Beach Film Festival, but the festival did not select it for the 2012 program.

According to the synopsis, the film is not just a funny film about baseball; it's about second chances, reconciliation and forgiveness — themes that appear to resonate as well in Judaism and other faiths.

"[The film's] messages are universal," the synopsis reads. "It's about making mistakes and moving on, about living by principles and not passions. 'The Yankles' is about real people with real problems and real needs, and promises to be meaningful and provocative movie entertainment."

Twitter: @ImranVittachi

If You Go

What: One-time screening of "The Yankles" and a Q&A with the filmmakers.

When: 2 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Century Theatre cinemas at Bella Terra, 7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach

Tickets: $20 for adults and $10 for children aged 12 and younger. Tickets and group sponsorships to the screening can be purchased via the "Special Events" page on the Temple Beth David website, at or by calling (714) 892-6623.

For a sneak peek: Watch the trailer on the film's official website:

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