Here's another sequel that is really a thinly disguised remake . . . only less so.
One of Martin Sheen's sons stars in this sports comedy about an underdog team that rises to the top against seemingly insurmountable odds. And no, it's not "D2: The Mighty Ducks" . . . we did that last week.
This one is David Ward's "Major League II," and it does have some genuine laughs - especially in its first half. But the film is so familiar and superficial that it wears out its welcome long before the predictable climax.
In fact, the main difference between the 1989 "Major League" and "Major League II" is that this time Charlie Sheen gets top billing over Tom Berenger. And Sheen's character, Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, is clearly the central role.
As the film opens, the downtrodden Cleveland Indians team is being assembled for another season, under new owner Corbin Bernsen, a player in the first film. Sheen's character has cleaned up his act, trading his punk image for a more sophisticated approach. Berenger is about to reluctantly step into a management role, as James Gammon is forced to step down. Dennis Haysbert, whose character practiced voodoo in the first film, has converted to Buddhism. And Omar Epps, replacing Wesley Snipes as Willy Mays Hays, has become a movie star.
If that's not enough, when the film reaches the halfway point, Margaret Whitton returns as the nasty former owner who again takes the reins. And by golly, it's the players' hate for her that inspires the team to start another winning streak.
Is this deja vu all over again, or what?
This sequel is virtually plotless, episodic and meandering and overloaded with disparate characters. In addition to the regulars from the first film, there are a Japanese player, a country rube - named "Rube" - and an obnoxious hotshot hitter, played by David Keith. Alison Doody and Michelle Burke are around to vie for Sheen's affections. And even Rene Russo makes an unbilled cameo appearance in one scene, now married to Berenger. Another unbilled player is Randy Quaid, who plays an obnoxious fan in the stands, a one-joke role that seems to be an afterthought - he's never seen in the same shot with any of the other star cast. And let's not forget Bob Uecker, back as play-by-play radio announcer Harry Doyle, who provides the film's biggest laughs.
Despite this attractive, if crowded, list of players, "Major League II" is a disappointment. Does anyone remember when Ward took home an Oscar for his screenplay of "The Sting"? These days he's writing and directing movies like "The Program" and "King Ralph."