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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.27%
Worth A Look33.78%
Average: 21.62%
Pretty Bad: 21.62%
Total Crap: 2.7%

7 reviews, 32 user ratings

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For Love of the Game
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by Scott Weinberg

"Great baseball sequences, a pretty Kelly Preston, and a gloomy Costner."
4 stars

For Love of the Game is actually two movies in one: A baseball movie and a romance. The sporting sequences are easily worth 5 stars and familiar romantic stuff rates a solid 3. As a whole, how much you like it depends on your interest in the wonderful game of Baseball AND your tolerance for a little schmaltzy kissing and crying.

Being the renaissance man that I am, I can dig a good romance. Being a regular guy, I love baseball. While this movie isn't perfect, it's a great "compromise video choice" for couples at the video store. As tough as it seems to achieve a balance between the game sequences and the lovey-dovey stuff, director Sam Raimi acquits himself a lot better than most directors would have.

Aging pitcher Billy Chapel (Costner) is having one rotten day. He finds out that his beloved Detroit Tigers are being sold and that he'll consequently be traded at the end of the season. Then he learns that his girlfriend Jane (Preston) is moving abroad to improve her career. (The nerve.) Billy then has to pitch his final game of a losing season today, and he's basically in a sour mood.

Through the course of Billy's preparations and the game itself, the movie flashes back to earlier points in his career. While most of these deal with his romance with Jane, some are memories of distant friendships and unhappy decisions. Granted, the constant 'back-and-forth' gimmick may grow a bit tiresome, but by that point you'll either hate the movie or be completely caught up in it.

I fall into the latter category. Given Costner's recent track record, there's no real reason to expect this movie to be any good. But it actually is quite a entertaining movie, thanks mainly to the direction of Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead series, A Simple Plan). Whenever Dana Stevens' (City of Angels) script veers close to true corn, Raimi pulls up just short, flashes to the present, and presents some fantastic baseball sequences.

Costner plays Billy as melancholy and regretful, the very things that cause him so much trouble in his love life. Unfortunately (and as usual) Costner never loosens up at all; he's always stoic and mellow. He offers the typical "Don't get too close to me or I'll end up hurting you" role with his usual professionalism, but he'd seem more real if he smiled maybe twice. Kevin Costner suffers from "Movie Star Syndrome". When he plays a real character, like in Tin Cup, he shines. While she's no Oscar threat here, Kelly Preston easily holds her own as Jane, although her character is a bit underwritten for the female lead a romantic film.

What matters most in a movie like this is whether or not you care if these characters have a happy ending or not. There are several things that can ruin this for you: poor performances, a cliched and lazy script, or just an air of what I can only call 'fakeness'. (See Fools Rush In or Costner's own Message in a Bottle for examples of such romantic 'fakeness'.) For Love of the Game avoids these maladies (for the most part). If Costner and Preston don't always click as a couple, that's OK because she's really pretty! If the baseball sequences seem a tad forced or convenient, that's OK because it's a damn well-made baseball movie.

Maybe you just need to be a wimpy guy like me who likes happy endings and loves baseball, but let's put it this way: Male OR female, if you pick up the box at the video store, and it already looks pretty good to you, you'll like it.

In between colossal Hollywood flops, Costner does another baseball movie. While it might not compare with Bull Durham or Field of Dreams as a 'baseball movie', neither of those films can claim to have as romantic a heart as this one does. (Another example: If you found the previous sentence really sappy, you probably won't like this movie, you cold-hearted cynic you.)

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originally posted: 04/26/00 10:27:07
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User Comments

8/05/11 K D A film critic who knows nothing about Baseball. Right. Probably a soccer fan. 5 stars
2/12/09 Jheri Jones Wonderful film no matter what the critics say. 5 stars
5/12/07 Forrest D I like it a lot more than I expected to, esp. Jane's character, but she is underwritten. 5 stars
2/23/05 Jeff Anderson Criminally underrated baseball film & a damn great one for both Raimi & Costner, I MEAN IT! 5 stars
11/02/04 Meirav Nora-Cohen I love this film. Costner is great as always and Preston is a hugh suprise - great actress! 4 stars
6/29/04 Cameron Cubbison Costner delivers a heartfelt, amiable performance, and anchors this Capraesque tale. 5 stars
12/11/03 john a great sports film and a good romance 5 stars
6/10/03 Jack Bourbon I enjoyed this movie. Not the slappable dud I expected. 4 stars
1/20/03 Jack Sommersby Underrated love story is affecting and beautifully acted. 4 stars
3/17/02 FlaFan Costner and the baseball scenes are great. Kelly Preston and certain scenes are not. 4 stars
2/26/02 Phil M. Afficianado So what's wrong with a male soap opera, baseball, and Costner? Nothing. 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Looks like a Foldger's coffee comercial...Raimi's only suck-fest (I blame Costner) 2 stars
5/28/01 cinkcool Worth a look. 4 stars
2/05/01 Wafer I think this movie only could have been pulled off by Raimi 4 stars
12/17/00 Jed Good movie it sure was. Costner has done worse than this people. 4 stars
7/13/00 Terrie Smith Not a baf film; not as good as Costner's previous "baseball" movies. 3 stars
5/25/00 Jed Costner's 2nd best film. A bit flawed but quite underrated. 4 stars
4/27/00 MR joel harwood ZzZzZ slightly drawn out slow in parts good in others, Its been done 4 stars
1/22/00 Josh Same old same old love story but very enjoyable as always by Raimi 4 stars
12/19/99 Herman What a relief after his last few bombs 4 stars
10/19/99 Cassandra I Love it!!! Definately a girls movie 4 stars
10/16/99 DarkHorse At least watch the damn thing before you bitchslap it, moron... It did suck however... 2 stars
10/03/99 Movie Lover Great movie - I loved it! 5 stars
10/01/99 spork-girl how do i like to be kissed? not by kevin costner 1 stars
9/27/99 Ron Jeremy Sucked all ass is definitly a good way to sum it up - more crap from costner 1 stars
9/26/99 The Lynchpyn works 'cause it's got the romance for chicks & the game for the guys 3 stars
9/26/99 Chickflick A great date movie!!! 4 stars
9/25/99 Bret What the hell was the point of the movie!!!!!! 2 stars
9/25/99 Alyssa Where was Bruce Campbell's cameo? He was needed to kick Costner's whiney little ass. 2 stars
9/19/99 Frank pretty good..more of a chick flick 3 stars
9/19/99 Mr Showbiz Kev's definitely on his B-game in this overblown melodrama. 3 stars
9/14/99 Jason Levine Terrific (but, of course, I'm a pushover for sappy romances, and when you add baseball...) 5 stars
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