Review: For Love Of The Game (1999)

for love of the game

I love this game, loved it for a very long time in fact!

Screenplay By: Dana Stevens
Directed By: Sam Raimi

I’m a huge baseball fan, I’ve talked about that plenty on here. I love movies, but not even movies can come close to touching the relationship I have cultivated with baseball over the years. I’m not going to try and deny the sappiness and sentimentality of that last sentence. That should tell you right there where I stand on the sentimental and schmaltzy nature of For Love Of The Game. Sam Raimi has made a film that is as sentimental as a film can be, but it still works as a well made sports film. I’m not as high on the romantic elements of the film, but the depictions of baseball and the inner workings of baseball work very well in For Love Of The Game.

Sentimentality has its place in cinema, it’s not some sort of pariah that should be banished from the world of film forever. Some films work better due to their sentimentality, and For Love Of The Game almost works exclusively because of its sentimental nature. Mr. Raimi hones in on the feelings harbored by many a baseball fan. He focuses on those feelings, drives to the heart of those feelings, and makes it where those feelings help to buoy his film. This gives For Love Of The Game an almost lived in feel, like a perfect game is actually being thrown and I actually want Billy Chapel to throw his perfect game. When it is focusing on baseball For Love Of The Game is at its best because the baseball feels real and it feels like something to cheer for.

The romance subplot in For Love Of The Game is pure Hollywood. It’s pretty inoffensive, and it does help to add to the Chapel character somewhat. It is, however, a problem when it comes to the length of the film. The relationship between Chapel and Jane never feels as real as the baseball elements. Yet, they are given almost as much time, and that causes the film to drag on in parts. The actual ending of the film is another problem. It is obvious and perfectly fine from a storytelling standpoint. But, the filmmaking takes so long to get it over with that the film comes across as if it’s refusing to end.

For Love Of The Game isn’t among Sam Raimi’s best works. I’ll be honest, were it not for the subject matter of baseball and the enjoyable method of fracturing the narrative I wouldn’t like For Love Of The Game as much as I do. There’s sentiment and schmaltz galore to be found in For Love Of The Game, and for the most part it works and makes for an enjoyable baseball watch. Unfortunately, unlike Chapel, the sentiment and schmaltz in For Love Of The Game never broaches perfect territory.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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