“For Love of the Game”
Starring: Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly
2 hours, 18
[MAY 1, 2000] All the other reviews that I read about the
third movie in Costner’s baseball trilogy tell a story of woe,
claiming that this movie is flawed.
They apparently quote Costner, saying that the movie was
ruined in the editing room. They point to the flat, detracting role Kelly Preston played
as Jane Aubrey, Billy Chapel’s girlfriend.
They rant about the distracting subplot, where Jane’s
teen-age daughter (Jena Malone) runs away.
They rail against the length of the film, saying that at
least 20 minutes of the finished film should have ended up on the
editing room floor. But for my contribution to the critical fray, I want to
report that I thought it was a magical movie.
Chapel (Kevin Costner) is an aging pitcher for the Tigers, a
first-rate baseball team. But
the game is changing, the team has been sold, and Chapel receives
the news that he has been traded.
Big corporations now own the teams. In the main story of
this movie, Billy Chapel sets out to pitch the perfect game.
beginning to end you, the viewer, understand that baseball has
been Chapel’s entire life.
It has filled him to the extent that he has not made any
plans for anything else. Relationships
have been tied to what city tonight’s game is in (a girl in
every port). Possessions
are few and unimportant. Memories
all have their close ties to the game.
Just as the game is about to fade into the background, the
one relationship Chapel thinks worthy of going into extra innings
might say that the magic in this film comes from the portrayal of
Chapel’s perfect game (which opens the movie and closes the
movie). But baseball
is just a subplot to this movie.
One might say that the magic in this film comes from the
portrayal of Chapel’s need for a satisfying relationship and his
pursuit of the one woman who is capable of fulfilling him.
But romance is just a subplot to this movie.
I think the magic in this film comes from the portrayal of
Chapel himself. On that pitcher’s mound stood a man who was every man.
When he pitched, I was there on the mound with him.
When he ached, I ached too.
When he had to make a decision, I too considered the
top of second column)
Love of the Game” may not be Costner’s greatest movie, but I
believe it is the best role Costner has ever played.
Costner does actually pitch and catch in this film, and this
contributes to the veracity of the role.
Costner delivers his lines perfectly throughout the movie, and
is especially convincing as he audibly gives direction to himself on
the mound, speaking directly to the “mechanism.”
The tour de force of this movie is its portrayal of the basic
struggles: man-against-man, man-against-nature and
or not, I was so in tune with Billy Chapel in this movie that I failed
to notice. “For Love of the Game” is a magical movie.
I recommend it even for those who don’t appreciate baseball,
and give it 3 stars (out of five).