Movie of the Day – For Love of the Game
January 15, 2013 6 Comments
I don’t know about you guys, but I really like it when Kevin Costner stars in sports movies. It doesn’t matter if it is Golfing, Cycling or Baseball, he just has the right look and feel for being this Joe Sportsman. Granted he has only been in like 5 sports movies total, each one of them are incredibly touching and memorable in particular way. I don’t much care for the shoehorned love interest angle that they have to put into the movie, but something about watching him struggle in the game he loves to play just gets the best emotional reaction. I have already covered American Flyers, Tin Cup and Field of Dreams, so today’s is another underrated baseball movie that also happens to be directed Sam Raimi. YES that Sam Raimi who made Evil Dead. Who would have thought he had a touching, sentimental look at a pitcher at an impasse of his career movie in him.
Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is a star pitcher with the Detroit Tigers, standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium and throwing what is shaping up to be a perfect game with the help of his best friend and catcher, Gus Osinski (John C. Reilly). However, Billy is having a hard time keeping his mind on the game; he’s come to a crossroads in both his personal and professional lives, and he isn’t sure what to do or where to go. He’s learned that the Tigers are about to be sold, and the new owners intend to trade him at the end of the season, and that his girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston) is planning to leave him. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
I got to admit that I have a soft spot for this movie. Maybe it’s because Sam Raimi was directing. Maybe it’s because Costner is great in these sort of movies. Maybe it’s the stellar cast of John C. Reily, J.K. Simmons, Brian Cox, Jenna Malone, and Kelly Preston in this movie. I guess all these thing help me overlook an overly cliche sports movie about an aging pitcher trying to figure out where to go next in his life. It’s no Bull Durham, but For Love of the Game at least gets us into the mind of a pitcher who is conflicted about what happens next in his life. Stay the course of pitching until you retire, passing up opportunities in his non-baseball life or try and make something work for once in his life in terms of love and family.
It’s a heartfelt movie, one that explores the conflicts of a pitcher that has given most of his life to the game he loves, almost letting everything outside the game falter. His relationship with Kelly Preston is on the rocks and either he learns to let go of the professional life to save his relationship or just devote himself to a game that will pass him by soon. The way this is portrayed, the conflict anyways, is handled a bit badly. What we get is a constant use of flashback scenes that are cutting into a particularly big game that is taking place during the movie. Raimi I guess wanted to showcase a chaotic nature of conflicts in Costner’s mind at the time, balancing his professional and personal life, but it really stops a lot of the development of the story lines. For some it will be annoying, but I learned to deal with it to some extent and just watch it all unfold in fractured moments.
Costner is wonderful as always in this sort of role, again I think he is just born to play these sort of characters who are in the down and outs of their careers. This is one role in which we look at his struggles from a personal aspect, one where his life inside and outside the game are at stake. Raimi did a commendable job with presenting a more toned down film instead of his usual flair for the visuals. As a baseball movie, it isn’t the game itself that is at the center, but rather how the game has affected one person who lives and breathes it. A very underrated movie in my opinion.