film fatales #85: cameraperson (kirsten johnson, 2016)
geezer cinema/film fatales #86: relic (natalie erika james, 2020)

by request: for love of the game (sam raimi, 1999)

Kelly Preston died, and I can't remember anything she ever did. I know she was in Jerry Maguire, but I have no recollection of her, and I don't think I've seen any of her other movies. For Love of the Game was on the DVR, and it has been on my request list for a long time, so it seemed a good time to watch it.

I can't really say Sam Raimi is one of my favorite directors. He works in a variety of genres, and I love his movies in one of them, horror. He started with the Evil Dead movies ... Evil Dead II remains my favorite. But he moved on, making a Western and an Oscar-nominated crime thriller, before directing all three Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies (which made upwards of $2 billion). Thankfully, he returned to his roots with Drag Me to Hell, which was delightful for those of us who had been waiting. Since then, he directed Oz the Great and Powerful and moved mostly into producing.

So I had no idea what I would think of For Love of the Game based on what I thought of Raimi, except that it wasn't a horror story. But it was a request, and it was a Kevin Costner baseball movie, which doesn't guarantee a good time (not a fan of Field of Dreams) but Costner brings a nice authenticity (like when he was a switch-hitter in Bull Durham).

The baseball was the best thing about For Love of the Game. It felt real, and Costner, a pitcher this time, seemed right. Vin Scully made his lines sound as if he was making them up on the spot. Yes, it was hokey ... so are most sports movies. But sports movies almost always have an emotional ending ... the big fight, the last-second touchdown ... and For Love of the Game gives us a doozy.

But ... and I guess this is a spoiler, but I had no idea going in, and besides, the movie's more than 20 years old, so get over it. No one told me For Love of the Game is a romance. And the romance is trite. Raimi goes back and forth from a baseball game and the romance, and honest, I didn't give a shit about the romance. The music was intrusive, and there were too many of what we call "The Song" moments, where the director uses popular music to overstate was is happening (I'd say the worst offenders were a Bob Seger song, and a far too on-the-mark "I Threw It All Away"). The damn thing runs for 137 minutes, a lot longer than Bull Durham, which is actually a good movie.

For Love of the Game is half a good movie. Except the baseball takes up less than half the running time, so let's say it's a third of a good movie.



Pretty much any Bob Seger song past hie first couple of albums is an overstatement.

Man, there are so many bad baseball movies. Or sports movies in general--masculine sentimentality simply doesn't translate well into any narrative form (or usually into real life, for that matter). That's why I like Mark Harris's Henry Wiggen books, as he uses his Twain influence to add some tartness to the emotional framework.

Steven Rubio

I only know Harris from the movie of Bang the Drum Slowly. I hated it when I saw it ... might think differently now.

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