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Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

While we are dealing with crazy weather, there is one constant that makes winter less bleak for me.

 

Baseball.

 

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.”

 

Image by D. Harder

Image by D. Harder

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.

 

Trouble with the curveBut 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.

 

 

 

And On To The Oscars

Family Movie Night

This past weekend saw the Golden globes hand out their awards and next will be various guilds until we get to Oscar Night!

As a movie person, I get really excited about this night and I feel bad when I have not seen all of the movies. But this year I am taking the bulls by the horn. 

Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network," picture from IMDb.com

 As of the 18th, you can start your rental road to the Oscars with Golden Globe Best Movie winner, The Social Network.  Jesse Eisenberg stars as the Harvard student who came up with Facebook. This is how he wheeled and dealed (sort of), lost friends, gained business associates and became the youngest billionaire.

 All the critics have raved about this movie, talking about Eisenberg’s  accurate portrayal and Justin Timberlake’s incredible performance. As much as I do not know about computer programming, I want to see this movie for the story.

 Another movie that is destined for a Best Movie nomination is Inception starring Leonardo Di Caprio and directed by

Leonardo Di Caprio in "Inception," picture from IMDb.com

Christopher Nolan. The story is about a man who can steal ideas as people are sleeping. However, Di Caprio is not able to go home to his children. That is when he is offered a deal to plant a suggestion in someone’s head in exchange for redemption.

 What makes this movie fascinating, besides the premise alone, is the special effects of the ever-changing dream world. With a tug of the hand scenes can instantly change. It is incredible to watch along with the emotionally charged story. I was able to get through one hour before I had to turn it off. I plan to rent this movie again.

Grown-up Andy looking at his favorite toys, Picture from IMDb.com

Finally, I hope that Toy Story 3 will get nominated for Best Picture although I suspect it will be placed in Best Animation as a consolation prize. I find this movie to be a thrilling story of growing up, regrets, a little action adventure and, finally, rebirth.

 Now if none of these movies appeal, let me suggest The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as two NYPD detectives who hate each other. Luck shines on the caustic partners as they discover a case that could make them into the big-time cops they dream of being.

This is a PG-13 movie, not suitable for the younger members of the family. It looks like a whole lot of fun besides the opportunity to ogle Mark Wahlberg’s abs that were put into shape as he got ready for The Fighter.

Will Ferrell and the hot, hot, hot Mark Wahlberg in "The Other Guys," picture from IMDb.com

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.