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Given the track records of its writer, Neil Simon, and director, Hal Ashby, THE SLUGGER'S WIFE should at least have been entertaining. It isn't. Instead, it is one of the most disappointing, least credible films about baseball in recent memory. Neither good-natured fantasy (ANGELS IN THE
OUTFIELD; DAMN YANKEES) nor realistic drama (EIGHT MEN OUT; BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY), THE SLUGGER'S WIFE most nearly approaches the romantic comedy of BULL DURHAM, except that it's neither funny nor romantic, and it certainly isn't believable. Not only are we asked to swallow Michael O'Keefe, who
plays Atlanta Brave Darryl Palmer, as a power hitter, but we are also supposed to accept that he is closing in on Roger Maris' single-season home run record. In the same way that Anthony Perkins' impassioned performance made his throwing ability irrelevant in FEAR STRIKES OUT, it might not have
mattered that O'Keefe looks like anything but a long-ball hitter--if he or the film had anything else to offer. Neither does. The crux of the tale is the relationship that develops between Darryl and aspiring rock star Debby (Rebecca De Mornay), who eventually becomes his wife. Darryl can't hit
unless Debby's there to support him, but she feels trapped in their marriage and longs to pursue her rock 'n' roll career again. Problems mount, but, as you might guess, everything is hunky-dory at the finale. Those who do decide to watch the film should be on the lookout for appearances by former
major league pitchers Mark "The Bird" Fidrych and Al Hrobosky and former pro football players Alex Hawkins and Harmon Wages. Sports fans will also want to note folkie Loudon Wainwright III as Debby's lead guitar player.