Here’s a feature I’m sure everyone will adore, in which I set out to ruin something that can’t possibly be ruined, something universally beloved. Why? Because I’m Mr. Brightside. Today, I fix my sunny gaze on…baseball movies.
Everyone loves baseball movies because they capture the romantic spirit and drama of baseball without commercial breaks every half-inning, and without Joe Buck.
But every baseball movie on record has a flaw, many of them fatal. The perfect baseball movie hasn’t been made yet, unlike the perfect mob movie, the perfect trapped-in-a-highrise-with-German-terrorists movie and the perfect Jamaican bobsled team movie. Each baseball movie, no matter how great, has that fly in the ointment, that one nagging problem that only gets worse with repeated viewings.
Field of Dreams — The presence of Amy Madigan destroys every scene in which she appears. From her shrill “Nazi cow” diatribe to her neglectful wife and mothering skills (she thinks her prophet husband is going crazy, and lets her daughter choke on a hot dog), she’s a hateful character. She’s also ugly. The movie would have been much better served killing her off in the opening scene, and letting KC plunge into alcoholism for a few weeks before he hears the voice. Check that: if she died, he would probably shrug and go on with his business, a little happier than before.
For Love of the Game — Three words: “Clear the mechanism.”
Bull Durham — Tim Robbins trying to pitch looks like Corky trying to dance.
Bad News Bears — It’s impossible to watch this film and avoid the resultant feelings of self-loathing that you’re attracted to an 11-year-old girl in a Little League uniform.
Eight Men Out — Doc Brown takes you out of every scene he’s in with his ridiculously hammy, old-timey performance. Go back to the Old West, Doc. Also, the little kid who squeaks, “say it ain’t so, Joe!” is unnecessary, annoying and cloying. However, I am compelled to point out that this film features D.B. Sweeney’s best work, other than The Cutting Edge.
The Natural — Wilford Brimley as Pop Fisher, representing every cranky-old-manager cliché in one tremendously unappealing package. Plus, he makes me think about diabetes.
Major League — Directly responsible for Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors. No amount of hilarious anti-Cleveland comedy is worth that.
Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch — Completely unrealistic.
Amazing Grace and Chuck — In which a little league pitcher stops pitching, and thus prevents thermonuclear destruction. I found the cinematography a little uninspired.