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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 EricDSnider

"For lovers of the game, it's a wonderful little movie."
4 stars

In "For Love of the Game," an aging superstar's career comes down to one last game, one final chance at proving he's still a viable player. That superstar's name: Kevin Costner.

His character, fictitious Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel, is in the same boat. I won't reveal what happens to Chapel -- whether or not he's able to pull off that last win -- but as for Costner, he hits this one out of the park.

After a string of disappointing (and even downright bad) films, Costner reminds us in this one why we ever liked him in the first place. He IS capable of acting, even emoting at times. When he wants to be, he's an effective Everyman, a guy that both men and women find appealing and enjoyable to watch.

The structure of "For Love of the Game," directed by Sam Raimi, is interesting. Basically, we are given two scenes before the Big Game, the final game of the season. In one of those scenes, Chapel's girlfriend Jane announces she's leaving him after five years and moving to London. In the other one, he finds out the team's being sold, and the new owners plan to trade him. He is encouraged to just retire.

The rest of the film is the game itself, full of Chapel's reflections and memories of events leading up to it. Things in the game remind him of his career, his girlfriend, his injuries, his fame and fortune. It's a genuinely compelling storytelling format, and the leisurely sport of baseball lends itself nicely to such reflection (though the movie does get sluggish at times, as does a game of baseball).

The movie is about love, of course, as Chapel eventually realizes his love for Jane and his error in neglecting her in order to eat, drink and sleep baseball. But baseball is also made to seem like a reasonable alternative to Jane -- or to anything, really. If any movie can restore America's love for this game, it's this one. The outcome of the game is fairly predictable, but still quite thrilling, as all good sports movies are, and the casting of real-life announcer Vin Scully as the play-by-play man was pure genius. Scully is the premier baseball announcer today, a living legend, and his descriptions of the game in this movie make the whole pastime seem magical again. Maybe it's my own fond memories of his voice in my house, calling the Dodgers games every Saturday afternoon, but if Vin Scully tells me that baseball is a fantastic game, and a metaphor for life, and all the other things this movie tells me it is, I believe him.

You'll believe, too.

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originally posted: 07/04/03 14:17:02
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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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