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Cinema: No-Hit Game

2 minute read
Richard Corliss

A perfect game in Yankee Stadium is no big deal these days; two have been pitched in the past 16 months. But a good baseball movie, that’s hard. Kevin Costner was in one of those (Bull Durham). In For Love of the Game he tries for two, as an aging Detroit Tigers pitcher in what may be his final game–a last shot at perfection.

Costner still twinkles and steams plausibly, but all else about the film is ludicrous. The nattering violins, orgasmic from the first moment, alert you that director Sam Raimi has either no control of the production or no belief in the material. And why should he believe? Dana Stevens’ script buries the compelling story of an athlete’s career crisis under a no-fun affair he has with a charmless woman (Kelly Preston–big mistake) and a daughter problem that adds 15 minutes of emotional lard. As domestic drama, it’s down there with Stepmom. And much of the jock stuff will look loony to true fans. Costner has complained that his studio cut the film insensitively to get a softer rating, but what’s left is nothing to brag about. If the filmmakers were ballplayers, they’d all be put on waivers.

There is a small, forlorn fraternity that thinks The Postman, Costner’s widely reviled postapocalyptic romance, is a decent movie, acutely alert to the perils and pleasures of mythmaking. Maybe audiences will forgive Costner for making that noble flop and welcome him back to the baseball-weepie lode he mined in the sappy, canny Field of Dreams. (He even plays catch with his dead dad again.) Or perhaps, like this dogged Costner fan, you will simply want to shoot yourself by the third inning.

–By Richard Corliss

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