Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
While we are dealing with crazy weather, there is one constant that makes winter less bleak for me.
In mid-February, I do not know any sweeter words than “pitchers and catchers report.”
Bring on sub-zero temperatures, ice storms, and big thaws all in the same week. Bring on snow and rain and sleet because soon, very soon, the players will take the field in that spring ritual that leads us into a summertime of hope.
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”
James Earl Jones states this while telling Kevin Costner that people will pay money to come to his farm in the middle of Iowa and sit on the bleachers to watch a field. Perhaps they see the players, perhaps they don’t. But what Field of Dreams, the best baseball movie ever, seemed to understand is that baseball is the undercurrent of our lives. It connects us to other people whether we are a participant or observer.
Bull Durham is the absolute best baseball movie because while the game might be the setting, it is dreams that are found or lost that drives the plot.
Another baseball movie that usually makes the list is Major League with Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger. The driving force to this baseball movie is the desire to stick it to an unfeeling owner determined to have a losing season so she can easily move the team to a different city.
The latest baseball movie to come to the home theater market is Trouble With The Curve starring Clint Eastwood as an aging baseball scout. He is having issues with his eyes which is not good for a man who watches baseball games to find the next best player.
But he has other problems as well. He does not believe in computers as a way of predicting players. That makes some in management leery of depending on a guy who will not adapt to new technology. It makes his boss wonder what is going on and leads him to call Clint’s daughter, played by Amy Adams.
She became a lawyer to please him, except she has bitterness that has to do with the death of her mother and his abandonment of her as a child. But at this critical time in her career when she is being considered for partnership, she feels the need to take a few days to go with her father on a scouting trip.
I enjoyed the movie because there are some great moments between Adams and Eastwood. Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and Matthew Lillard provide good support as well. But sports movies are built on clichés and this one has too many that are easy and pat. New technology being bested by the ‘old way.’ A trite conflict that ends a relationship at its start. A discovery of a player hinted at throughout the movie. A prospect who is demanding and arrogant in the worst ways.
Most baseball movies are really meant for adults, the language and/or context is saltier or deeper than most kids under the age of 10 are interested in hearing. That is true with Trouble With The Curve as a parent and his adult child try to reconcile what happened with the here and now.
If there was ever a great movie about baseball for kids, it has to be The Sandlot. This film came out in 1993 and did not seem like a big deal. It is about a bunch of kids who played ball in an empty sandlot everyday. When a new kid moves into the neighborhood, he lies about knowing how to play. But soon he is taken under the wing of the best player and that summer becomes memorable for many reasons.
Like many movies that seem like they are about nothing, this one brings back childhood memories that are sweet and horrible and the shaping forces of our life with baseball as the background.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.