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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.22%
Average: 7.41%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Up For Grabs
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by Scott Weinberg

"Baseball flick, courtroom drama, canny documentary and crafty comedy."
5 stars

Moviegoers are currently in the midst of what I've just now labeled a "Renaissance of Human Interest Documentary". Basically what that silliness means is that 'Spellbound' got the ball rolling by restating the obvious: hey, not ALL documentaries have to be about dead artists or the Holocaust! Sometimes the most fascinating stories come from the most trivial of places, and this lesson is perpetually evident throughout Michael Wranovics' addictively entertaining 'Up For Grabs'.

It's a feature-length documentary about two grown men fighting over a baseball. Sounds kinda flimsy, right? Then explain why, after Up For Grabs' 90-some minutes were expended, I was hungry for even more. This is a tale so silly, so trivial, and so masterfully captured by Wranovics and his crew - Up For Grabs is a brilliantly cool documentary.

The baseball in question is the historic 73rd Home Run Ball, as blasted by one Barry Bonds. Obviously a memento of this caliber would fetch a pretty penny on the collector's market, so when two different men claim ownership of the spherical souvenir, it made for one helluva court case.

A documentarian's primary concern should always be that of objectivity, and that's where Up For Grabs socks a grand slam. At one point, the audience is entirely convinced that the million-dollar baseball belongs to Defendant A; before too long, we're positive that Claimant B is the rightful owner. Both chaps are presented in a refreshingly warts-and-all fashion, which allows the viewer to decide who's being dishonest. Or, more accurately, who's being more dishonest. By the time Up For Grabs reaches its conclusion, one of the fellas is clearly the bigger jerk, but we don't need Wranovics to tell us that; the truth is right there on the screen.

Full of humorously candid interviews with witnesses, reporters and baseball fans, and laden with day-by-day archival footage of the incident and its subsequent farce of a trial, Up For Grabs is as engaging and fascinating as any well-written drama could ever be.

'Up For Grabs' is both an insightful, entertaining document of fact AND a sly indictment of a society that pays such close attention to such moronic incidents. It's a thoroughly colorful and effortlessly enjoyable documentary, and a flick that ESPN should immediately snatch up for broadcast. You needn't be a baseball freak to enjoy this movie, just a bemused witness to the lunacy of human greed.

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originally posted: 03/30/04 18:29:29
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/20/05 Brooke C. Fabulous, taut, exciting documentary...... 5 stars
5/30/05 Burnt Good but not Great... 3 stars
5/08/05 susan varney went in so manydirections I almost broke my leg 3 stars
4/17/05 H Huynh should be nominated for Oscar 5 stars
1/20/05 Edwin Louie The best docu-drama of it's time!! 5 stars
10/25/04 Susan Minasian Excellent, funny , thrilling and perfect 5 stars
5/15/04 trishafisha amazing....perfect....hilarious.....scary 5 stars
3/19/04 Jim Wilson Surprisingly good story, and well filmed. More twists than fiction. 5 stars
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Directed by
  Michael Wranovics

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