Baseball Movies

42 Trailer

The historical drama, the meditation on race relations, and the inspirational sports story: separately they’re all crowd-pleasing film genres that tend to do well at the box office and earn plenty of recognition during awards season. But put them all together and you get some kind of unstoppable super movie. Or, at least, that’s probably what writer/director Brian Helgeland was hoping when he made 42, a biopic of baseball player Jackie Robinson. For anyone out there whose nerdom doesn’t travel over into the sports world, Robinson was the first black player to cross the color line and play in Major League Baseball during the modern era. Which, you might imagine, was something that a number of tobacco-spitting ballplayers and drunken fans in the stands didn’t take kindly to back in the late 1940s. 42 seems to focus on the struggle of going somewhere you’re not wanted, so that you might pave the way toward opportunity for those who come after you; a noble goal that’s ripe with dramatic potential.

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While inspirational sports stories usually prove to be box office draws, when you make them you still run the risk of alienating the portion of the film-going audience who just don’t like sports. If someone doesn’t like basketball or football, how do you get them to sit through a story where people play basketball or football for two hours? Brad Pitt’s 2011 starring vehicle, Moneyball, was hyped by its fans as being a baseball story that anybody could get into. Its focus was more on statistics and science stuff than it was gameplay. It was more about bucking the system than it was winning the big game. And at its heart was a story about a failed man reclaiming his life and growing as an individual. There’s no need to be into baseball to enjoy all of that stuff, right? Major League, conversely, is a 1989 comedy that was aimed squarely at baseball fans. If you didn’t know about the Cleveland Indians’ pathetic standing in the league, if you didn’t have a long-standing relationship with hearing Bob Uecker’s voice talk about the game, and if you didn’t know the ins-and-outs of each position and exactly what it takes to be bad at playing them, then a lot of the movie’s charms were likely going to be lost on you. And if you could care less about whether or not the Indians beat the Yankees in the championship game, would you even be able to get anything out of watching this […]

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I’m not any sort of sports guy at all. Corner me in a bar and try to talk to me about last night’s big game and I’m going to stare back at you blankly and stupidly. Invite me to your Super Bowl party and I’m going to politely decline for fear of dying of boredom. But even I understand the appeal of baseball: the lazy pace, the fresh-cut grass, the hot dogs and peanuts, the crack of the bat. Hollywood has a long tradition of movies that have tapped into this seemingly universal love, but ever since it was released, the Kevin Costner-starring Field of Dreams has been considered by most to be the king of the mountain. And while pretty much everyone has seen Field of Dreams at some point in their lives, or at least understands that it’s the source of the, “If you build it, they will come,” quote, almost no one I know has ever seen Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s 2008 film Sugar. It got a brief release in New York and L.A., and then was shunted off to DVD without playing for anyone else. That’s a shame, because this tale about a young Dominican prospect trying to improve his station in the world by making it to the majors is my favorite film about the game.

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Clint Eastwood is, without argument, one of the biggest legends in Hollywood history. First as an actor and then as a director he has proven time and time again to be an invaluable treasure to the film world. I’m a little hit or miss on him as a director though. While he’s directed universally loved features like Unforgiven, he’s also directed movies that I don’t like, such as Million Dollar Baby. So, I’ve always preferred him as an actor. There is no movie that has ever been made worse by Clint Eastwood showing up to squint and growl in it. Because of that, I was pretty disappointed when Eastwood announced that Gran Torino would be the last film he ever appeared in as an actor. Gray skies are gonna clear up though. Eastwood was set to direct a movie called A Star is Born starring Beyonce Knowles, but since she’s gotten pregnant the project has been put in developmental limbo, leaving a hole in the 81-year-old screen veteran’s schedule. And since he’s a total badass that isn’t just going to stop working and rest for a couple months, Eastwood has decided to flirt with the idea of taking on another acting job. The Hollywood Reporter says that he’s in negotiations to star in a film called Trouble With the Curve about a baseball scout who goes on a road trip with his adult daughter. That doesn’t sound quite as good as movie about a baseball scout who goes on a […]

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