Worth A Look: 33.78%
Pretty Bad: 21.62%
Total Crap: 2.7%
7 reviews, 32 user ratings
|For Love of the Game
by Chris Parry
Oh Costner, you've done it again. Remember a long time back this Costner bloke did a film called Dances With Wolves that won like every award there was, and everyone wet themselves about it? Yeah, well that got him the sort of clout that allows him to get films made, even now. Unfortunately, Kevin forgot that having one solid premise that you could concentrate on was enough and he now instead tries to infuse every half decent idea he has with tame romantic conundrum where he plays the "tall, dark and unfriendly guy" that every girl thinks to be Mr Wonderful. Someone get him a whore already so he can move on.Seriously, Costner's films do have interesting premises. Usually. Field Of Dreams was good stuff, especially as back in those days the guy was acting on more than half a level. Waterworld was an interesting premise, 'cept Costner was playing Mr Silence and the ending was dumb. Postman was an interesting premise except it had no actual script to go along with it. Message In A Bottle was... well done a million times before. And now Cossy returns to his earlier triumphant Bull Durham territory - playing a crusty old about-to-retire baseballer who falls for a girl but can't admit it to himself until it's too late. In fact, wow, but does this rip off Bull Durham in every area.
"A damn fine sports flick. A damn crap romance flick."
My only problem with Bull Durham was that the romance angle was worked on a lot, but the baseball end of town was a little neglected. With FLOTG (I refuse to type it all out again), the sequence is reversed. The baseball is all good stuff. In fact, the baseball aspect of this film, complete with Sam Raimi signature sequences, is frickin' grand. In fact, if this was ONLY a baseball movie, I'd be pounding myself in the head with one of those inflatable Atlanta Braves axes and yelling "FIVE STARS! FIVE STARS!" with a painted face, no shirt and spilling beer all over the guy in the next row.
But the romance.. pass the nyquil.
Costner and Kelly Preston's characters are sooooooo unrealistic, I wanted to clunk their heads together like Moe.
Costner: "Hi, I'm tall, rough and a little bit muscley. I don't say much, but I treat you very romantically for the first few weeks, then I get issues. But deep down you know I'm a thinker and I'll figure it out after I've told you to go away a time or two and you've cried but come back because I stand in the rain. Wanna go out with me?"
Preston: "Hi, I'm blonde and.. yeah, wanna go out with me?"
John C.Reilly: "Hi. I'm the catcher. Ugly as sin, but that helps Kevin look better. Wanna go out with me? No? I can respect that.
The Kid: "Mommy's having sex with a baseball star once every four months, but we played monopoly together once, so it's okay. So... wanna go out with me? Well, everyone else was saying it."
Now, let's put the comedy on pause for a second. We've established that the romance factor here has a high "been done a million times" probability and an extreme implausability level. We've recapped Kevin's earlier failures and pointed out how he has failed to learn from any of them. Now, let's get back to the positives. Sport.
Basbeall is a gladitorial spectacle. It's team vs team, but always comes down to one man vs the rest - and if we want to get cliched, one man vs himself. Fuck football, there's never been a good football movie yet. Screw basketball, did you see Eddie? The Sixth Man? Celtic Pride? Ugh. Hockey hasn't been good since the days of Rob Lowe, and soccer.. well that'll never be the same after watching Sylvester Stallone try to be a goalie. No, it's down to baseball and boxing if you want to truly capture the excitement of sports on film.
And right here, Sam Raimi does just that. In fact, if they decided to release the DVD version with all the romance cut and just the baseball left, that'd be a damn collector's piece. I can't say it enough, the baseball component here is AWESOME!
And this is something unique in baseball movies, in that it doesn't do the usual Major League "we suck but our boss is nasty so we're going to start winning and win the world series" thing that Any Given sunday so BLATANTLY RIPPED OFF. In fact, this entire movie (and it ain't short) is just one game long. And it's the last game of a losing season. But it's played out beautifully and, despite a little predictability on occasion, offers the kind of finish that cliche or not, leaves you a little buzzed.
But it all comes unstuck with the romance. Costner really seems to believe he plays this character like no other, and he might be right. Problem is, it's a dud character. Are men supposed to relate? If so, the only men I know who behave like a Costner romance character work in the police force. They're silent, stern, and when they laugh it looks like a zillion sun-inflicted wrinkles have come out from hiding. Alternately, if he's supposed to appeal to the girls, why does this character ALWAYS go from nice guy to moody asshole in the blink of an eye? Where's the depth? Why is he moody? Why is he an asshole? Why is he the only nice guy around... always?Baseball = boys stuff. Romance = girls stuff. If the idea was to have both sets of sexes enjoying the film, somebody wasn't thinking. You want them to enjoy the film AT THE SAME TIME, not have them tag-team yawning as the baseball and romance enter and leave the ring. Someone take the producer's keys off Kevin and tell him to go back to acting school. And give Sam Raimi more sports movies and less romances. You wanna go out with me?
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originally posted: 02/13/00 17:44:20