For Love Of The Game

1999, Movie, PG-13, 140 mins

Review

The player: Kevin Costner
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A coming of middle-age story set against the backdrop of a single baseball game, during which an aging pitcher reassesses a lifetime of personal and professional choices. Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) has spent his entire adult life playing for the Detroit Tigers, the kind of dependable, loyal, self-effacing player who's largely a thing of aging fans' melancholy memories. Nearly 40, Billy's at a crossroads; he's got a bad shoulder, the beginning of a paunch and trouble with his pitching hand, the legacy of a near career-ending accident. The Tigers are being sold and the deal may involve trading Billy. And his on-again/off-again girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston) is tired of waiting for Billy to commit to her as fully as he has to the game, so she's leaving on the next plane for a job in London. During the course of that night's game against the Yankees, hometown favorites, Billy plays better than he has in years — each pitch, in fact, brings him closer to a perfect game — while turning over in his mind the events that brought him to this lonely pass. If, in your personal hierarchy, baseball ranks somewhere between a patriotic privilege and a holy rite, Billy's puerile story will probably seem to you imbued with near-mythic resonance. If not, its flaws will be all too apparent: Billy Chapel is a perpetual adolescent who's finally gotten the message that time waits for no man, and worthwhile women only wait for so long. And? Longtime horror fixture Sam Raimi's skillful direction keeps the tension taut, even for non-fans. But in the end, the weighty themes of loss, regret and abdication of personal responsibility are undermined by the reverential use of baseball as a symbol of mankind's potential for selfless greatness. Memo to all involved: It's a game. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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For Love Of The Game
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