For Love of the Game

The Boston Phoenix


REVIEWED: 09-20-99

The love of the game Sam Raimi could probably have handled; the love of the vain is another matter altogether. Why the gifted director of schlock horror who just made it into the big leagues with the Oscar-nominated A Simple Plan succumbed to this simple-minded paean to fading superstar Kevin Costner is a head scratcher. Costner plays an aging baseball player, fireball pitcher Billy Chapel of the equally fading Detroit Tigers, in town to pitch the last game of the season against the hated Yankees. He's off to a bad start: his estranged girlfriend, Jane (good sport Kelly Preston), has stood him up; he's stayed up all night sampling the hotel mini-bar; he wakes to learn that the team's owner is about to sell and he's trade bait. And once he's on the mound, every pitch is followed by a belabored flashback into his past in which he lost the love of his life because of his "love for the game" (i.e., he's a self-involved prick).

But every pitch brings him closer to a perfect game, and the hostile Yankee crowd and the hostile Jane (conveniently delayed in front of an airport TV) are gradually drawn into the time-defying feat of this sexist, conceited asshole of a demigod, in a way that adds to mere adulation the religious thrill of conversion. Like Costner's other baseball films -- the crypto-fascist Field of Dreams and the overrated Bull Durham -- this is all insidious, self-aggrandizing fantasy; an aging ballplayer's balking on a lucrative contract renewal is as likely as Sam Raimi's turning down a paycheck for a vanity production like this. As for the outcome of the game, let's just say Costner's no-hit streak continues.

--Peter Keough

Full Length Reviews
For Love of the Game
For Love of the Game
For Love of the Game

Capsule Reviews
For Love of the Game

Other Films by Sam Raimi
A Simple Plan
Hercules: The Legendary Journey (tv)
The Quick and the Dead

Film Vault Suggested Links
All About My Mother
The Castle

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