For Love of the Game

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Baseball. The American pastime. What is it about baseball that draws us to the movies, and what is it about baseball that has a man like Kevin Costner being in so many different movies about this particular sport? For one, we have to admit that both commercially and critically, Kevin Costner and baseball were a perfect match, as was his charatcter Billy and his catcher Gus in this movie. His initial movie about the sport, Bull Durham, explored the less-extravagant side of the game. In this, he played Crash Davis, a burnt out minor leaguer who was an unoffical mentor to an up and coming young rookie played by Tim Robbins, all the while romancing local enthusiast and baseball lover, Susan Sarandon. In his next film, Costner plays Ray Cansella, an Iowa farmer who hears voices that tell him to build a baseball diamond where his crops lie. A supernatural movie about baseball, sure, but we all loved it nonetheless… This brings us to the film in point, For Love of the Game. This was Director, Sam Raimi’s follow up to the critically acclaimed “A Simple Plan” and a chance for him to clear his name from the likes of the Evil Dead Triolgy. Don’t get me wrong, those were great movies, but they are light years away from a movie like this. So does it work? Does the forumula Costner + Baseball movie + Love Interest = Success??? To me-yes, to others-no. I, for one, liked this movie, even though it was not well received by critics and audiences in general. I will, however, agree that a little more baseball and a little less of the lovey-dovey scenes with Kelly Preston (Jane Aubrey) couldn’t hurt. After all, Costner is a natural athlete and baseball is his sport. As mentioned earlier, Costner plays aging ace pitcher, Billy Chapel. He’s been in the game for 19 years and has been an All-Star since he first picked up the ball. This concentrates on the twilight of his career, and takes us through his last game on the mound. What’s so signifigant about this game, other than it’s his last, is that he is in the midst of picthing a perfect game. Now, for all of you non-baseball types…a perfect game is one of the most difficult things to do in sports, even more difficult than to make a hole-in-one in golf. How difficult is it? Well, in baseball’s 100 year plus history, it’s only been done 18 times to date. This though is merely an afterthought in Billy’s head, as the majority of the movie is spent in a flashback reliving his moments with his girlfriend, Jane. Jane is played with a very keen quality by the lovely Kelly Preston, who has just informed Billy before the game that she has accepted a job in London and will be leaving. He relives the moments of their 5 year relationship through the course of the game and tries to put the pieces of his life in order to save his relationship with Jane. On a side note, he has also learned that the team has been sold and that after 18 years in Detroit, he will be traded to the Giants (San Francisco). To quote his catcher, Gus (the very underrated John C. Reilly) “You’re just having one shitty day”… For Love of the Game won’t appeal to some people, it has a hard time deciding if it wants to be love story or yet another movie about baseball. Either way, Kevin Costner is in his element in a movie about sports (whether it be Tin Cup, Bull Durham or Field of Dreams) and I personally think it’s one to see if you liked any of the previously mentioned movies. If nothing else, to see Sam Raimi direct a movie is something to bee seen, he gained another fan with this one…that’s for sure.

Video: How does it look?

For Love of the Game is shot in a 2.35:1 beautiful anamorphic picture. A majority of the movie takes place in Yankee Statium, right in the heart of New York City. The movie takes every bit of green from the diamond and it looks wonderful on the screen. Colors are bright and vivid and I didn’t detect a note of artifacting with the picture. One of the better ones that I’ve seen.

Audio: How does it sound?

While this movie isn’t all about the audio, it does a great job with what it has. When Billy delivers his fast balls, you feel like you have to dive and hit the dirt! Dialogue is as expected, clear and not muddled at all. Surrounds are used a lot more than I thought, the crowds at Yankee Statium alone make use of this. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was in the box seats behind home plate. Still, it does lack the quality of sound that just makes you say “Wow”.

Supplements: What are the extras?

While not a full-fleged Special Edition, this disc does have it’s share of extras. I thought I had heard that this would contain both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks (an interest of mine lately), but it indeed only has the Dolby Digital one. Still, there’s an interesting featurette “Spotlight on Location” about the making of the movie, some deleted scenes (that were wisely left deleted), an interesting trivia game that even took me a couple of tries to get right (Hint: Strike Three means YOU’RE OUT)! There’s some DVD-ROM content, a hidden trailer for the upcoming sequal to The Nutty Professor, a trailer and some production notes and cast bios. Of special interest is a few pages of text that show the history of the perfect game (that’s where I got the “only 18 perfect game” stat). It shows who threw them, against what team and in what year. Very interesting if you’re a baseball stat. nut like me. Overall, I would have wished they had thrown in a commentary and/or DTS soundtrack while they were at it, but this disc had more than enought to keep me occupied, and probably you as well.

Disc Scores