#8 of the Top Ten Baseball Movies
For Love of the Game (1999)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Based on the novel by Michael Shaara
Written by Dana Stevens
Starring: Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone
Billy Chapel (Costner) is on the tail end of a long and successful career as a pitcher with the Detroit Tigers. With the prospect of life after baseball staring him in the face, Billy looks back on the last five years. This includes the success on the field and the relationship he has with Jane Aubrey (Preston) and her daughter Heather (Malone).
Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead) isn’t the kind of director I expected to do a baseball film, but that’s exactly what he did. In 1999 For Love of the Game was released. The story was based on the novel by Michael Shaara (Gettysburg), and the screenplay was written by Dana Stevens (City of Angels). The cast includes baseball fan Kevin Costner (Field of Dreams) as well as Kelly Preston (From Dusk Till Dawn), John C. Reilly (The Thin Red Line), and Jena Malone (The Ballad of Jack and Rose).
As far as the story goes, it’s an interesting look at a player coming to the end of his career. The idea of an aging veteran has been done before, but this one takes some unique turns, choosing not to focus entirely on the sports. The story also seeks to display the nomadic lifestyle of baseball players and the challenges they face with their careers. There’s a lot of good to the story, but it might be a bit melodramatic at times. The faults of the story aside, this still seems to work really nicely.
The acting in this movie didn’t receive much support from the critics at the time. I think the stars all do a good job with their roles. Costner is perfect for the role, based on his love of baseball and his age when the movie was filmed. Preston, Reilly, and Malone are also good in their roles. For Jena Malone this was a big break in her career, gaining her notice as a rising star. The acting suffers only due to the melodramatic aspects of the story. Although it has cheesy moments, the acting is not going to take away from this one.
Overall this is a good movie. The premise is great, but the story lacks in delivering the full potential. If you’re a baseball fan this is a must-see movie. For fans of good drama in general, I would definitely recommend this movie. I would also suggest this to fans of the stars in the film. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
The baseball aspect of the story – the progress of a perfect game – is really well done, but the drama flashbacks in between left me cold.
I can’t say that they left me cold, but I kept going for the flashbacks to touch on other moments in his career. I agree that the perfect game was displayed nicely.