by Jay Seaver
7:05pm, going to see the Red Sox at Fenway. Sadly, it was not the beat-down the 2004 team laid on the Oakland A's that night, but this painful documentary on my favorite team's 2003 season.Still, We Believe isn't painful because of how it ends; that ending is one of the few parts of the movie where I felt something other than disgust. Yeah, it hurt, but it was honest emotion, and it was one of the parts of the movie that matched my memories of the season. This is because the movie, like most outsider views of Red Sox fandom, misses something crucial: Even if the Sox lose in the playoffs, and do so in tremendously painful fashion, getting to the playoffs is one whole hell of a lot of fun.
"Sox fans aren't all masochists, despite what this would have you believe."
Sadly, this movie makes it look depressing and lifeless. Despite nearly limitless access to players as charismatic as Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, and others, the movie is primarily told from the perspective of the fans. Which is okay, but "Angry Bill" Constine is all too typical of the fans they choose, all ready to spout pessimism and gloom at the drop of a hat. The fans chosen make Red Sox fandom look like a joyless pursuit, generally falling short of spouting the curse crap that has likely bought Dan Shaughnessey a new house or two, but still not getting across why we love this team.
The selection of games isn't much better. If you go by the games included in the movie, you'd have to wonder how this team made the playoffs, since extrapolating a full 162-game schedule from what was shown in the movie would yield a record of something like 20-142. They show Roger Clemens getting his 299th victory against the Red Sox, but don't show the Sox denying him his 300th in decisive fashion (or, for that matter, reference the Sox/Yanks/Roger history). That this was one of most explosive offenses in baseball history is mentioned in passing, but never shown. Where was the game where the Red Sox destroyed the Florida Marlins, scoring 11 runs before the first out? Or Bill Mueller's game where he hit grand slam home runs from both sides of the plate? Or, speaking of Mueller, how about one of the most hotly debated moves of the season, the trade which sent Shea Hillenbrand to Arizona for Byung-Hyun Kim, which polarized the fans and brought Mueller and fan favorite David Ortiz to the forefront? Chapter titles will occasionally reference the Sox' position in the standings, but the film only seems to show them losing, so the audience wonders how the team gained ground.
Obviously, I can't be objective about this movie. I was there - literally, in some cases; I was at the park the day tickets went on sale (although I spent much of the day in a room where a TV was showing coverage of the Columbia disaster - fortunately, using that as an omen would have been too crass even for this film), and I met Jessamy Finet and Erin Nanstad, two of the fans profiled (and the most upbeat), a year earlier. This was a movie about Red Sox fans, a group I'm a part of, and it doesn't represent me at all. This doesn't make it a bad movie; it's the disconnect between what's shown and what's said to happen, the lack of excitement, and the leaden telegraphing of the movie's ending makes it a bad movie.We're not all like this. Check out some Red Sox blogs for the perspectives of fans who love the team, and are enjoying the heck out of this season without much doom and gloom, either as an antidote to or (better) a substitute for this movie.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10050&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/20/04 09:28:59