What's Wrong With This Pitcher?
For Love of the Game
Review by Ross Anthony

Like New York's Yankee Fans, you might want to root against Kevin Costner as Detroit Tigers' aging pitcher Billy Chapel in another silly love story at the baseball diamond. And for the first couple of innings you'd have good reason to heckle. But like the aching Chapel, "For Love of the Game" slowly pulls itself out of a sluggish slump. Sliding in slow motion under your skin, it gradually pulls you from that slouched near-sleep position to the edge of the bleachers ... baited and waiting on that last pitch.

Unlike most sports films, this one starts rather promptly into the proverbial "big game." His lover (Preston) bails, his owner sells the team, and the next day after a sleepless night Chapel steps up to the mound in what could very possibly be his last pro game. Such a hurried start leaves the viewer wanting for traditional character setups; fear not, the bottom of each inning provides ample time for reflection. These "flashbacks" bring you up to speed on what looks like a possible no-hitter for a guy who throws for the love of the game.

Unfortunately, the film ends as it begins -- that last pitch is a fading sinker (metaphorically speaking). Engaging and well directed in the middle, but weak on beginning and end; Costner and Preston give outstanding performances throughout. While it still hits above average, a different climax may have made this a very fine film.

Save yourself a few bucks and quench your appetite for a good baseball love story: rent "The Natural" with Robert Redford now and "For the Love of the Game" around Christmas.

[Click here for Ross Anthony's suggested ending.]

For Love of the Game, Copyright © 1999. Rated PG-13.
Starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone.
Directed by Sam Raimi.
Screenplay by Dana Stevens.
Produced by Armyan Bernstein and Amy Robinson at Universal/Beacon/TIG.


Copyright © 1999 Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:11:04 PDT