Baseball meets Patch Adams

(originally posted 1/08) 

If you asked me yesterday what I thought of “Field of Dreams,” I would’ve probably spoken favorably. God, I embarrass myself sometimes.

As I watched it I kept thinking of of the Christian Rock Hard episode of “South Park.” Record exec to Cartman: “You really, really love Jesus.” “Yeah, don’t you?”
Ray Kinsella, as played by Kevin Costner, really, really loved baseball. If Shoeless Joe Jackson’s jock had been available, he would’ve tongue kissed it.
The yuppie/hippie angst was even more nauseating, with its trite “I’m turning into my father” subplot. Now I’m recalling another “South Park.”
Just when you think “Field of Dreams” can’t get any more hackneyed, a black man rhapsodizes about the good ol’ days when African-Americans couldn’t play major league baseball. Terrence Mann, meet Clarence Thomas.
Finally, if you’re making a valentine to a game, get the details right. Nothing against Ray Liotta, but he’s no more Shoeless Joe than Johnny Depp is Babe Ruth.
And “Field of Dreams” is no more a classic baseball film than “The Slugger’s Wife.”
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15 comments

  1. Dude, I think you must’ve been high when you wrote this post.

    How is is any more “cornball” than any other movie, baseball-related or not?

    “Hippie angst”? WTF? Doesn’t everyone go through this as they get older and realize they’re becoming their parents?

    So you don’t like Liotta as Jackson; what’s “wrong” with it? It’s not like they cast Don Ameche or something like that. Jeez.

    I think you’re the first person I ever seen rip the movie, baseball fan or not. Wow. Sure, it’s sentimental. Lots of movies are. A certain degree of suspension of disbelief is needed to buy into a few of the plot points- like many movies require. But to call it dreck? Wow…

  2. It’s baseball meets Patch Adams. BTW, Roger Angell hates it, too.

    I like Ray Liotta — but you might as well cast him as Sarah Palin.

    The Natural, Eight Men Out, to name a couple, are much better baseball movies.

  3. While, I still like the movie, it has not worn well over time. Maybe we are all too cynical now. Eight Men Out is a great movie. Sayles portrayed the details of 1900’s baseball to a “T”. While the basball scenes in Major League are not the best, there are lots of great lines, especially from Uecker. Actually, my new favorite would be The Rookie. Still kinda schmaltzy, but enjoyable.

  4. VRF is right: we have become too cynical. So that’s exactly why I enjoy Field so much now. I feel a little less cynical after watching it, because it emphasizes the joy I can still find in baseball- much like going to a minor league game. No bullshit, no superstar nonsense, no contract disputes. Just me and a beer, spending a couple of hours outdoors and enjoying baseball.

  5. I enjoyed the book better than the movie. For me, the farfetched plot of Shoeless Joe worked better as I read it from the printed page than when I saw it on celluloid as Field of Dreams. Granted, there are certain parts of he movie that I like – hell, the end of the movie when Ray gets to play catch with his dad ALWAYS gets me.

    The Eighties were a period of excellent baseball movies: Bull Durham, Major League, Long Gone (an HBO movie), Eight Men Out, The Natural… The Natural was even schmaltzier than Field of Dreams but the story works better. I sometimes wonder, though how folks would feel about The Natural if the moviemakers had kept the dark ending of the novel.

    Oh, and I’ve never found Liotta believable as Shoeless Joe.

  6. Eight Men out was good, especially the baseball sequences. I’ve got to throw a shout out for “Bingo Long”, the late-70’s Negro Leagues movie starring Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones…filmed in my hometown, Macon (at fields I played on!).

    Still, I’m a sucker for Field of Dreams. I own a copy, but haven’t watched it in a while.

  7. And I agree with Clete, the “Shoeless Joe” book was better (and slightly different) than “Field of Dreams”, the movie it spawned. I own a copy of the book as well.

  8. I agree that “Field of Dreams” doesn’t hold up well at all, but I can’t entirely hate any movie with Burt Lancaster in it. But I hated “The Natural” from the get-go. Turning Bernard Malamud’s downer ending into one of triumphant redemption is about as incongruous as ending “Mary Poppins” with the title character gunning down the irredeemably spoiled brats she’s minding. The best baseball movie I’ve seen in recent years is “Sugar” from six years ago, which is about a kid from the Dominican trying to pitch A-ball in a small town in Iowa. Although for a movie mixing comedy, baseball, and Korean nationalism, you can’t beat “YMCA Bseball Team,” starring the great Song Kang-ho, the best actor in movies today.

  9. Clearly parts of FOD don’t hold up to close scrutiny. An ex-hippie liberal farming in Iowa? About as likely as the the proverbial catfish on rollerskates. A one-time black activist and author waxing nostalgic about baseball with a bunch of dead white players from a segregated game? Nope. IMO Liotta gave a fine performance with the Shoeless Joe role, but clearly his Jersey accent rings false with viewers who know the real Jackson hailed from the deep south. The overall product somehow works as a MOVIE fantasy, and like others I loved the book version.

  10. ‘Field of Dreams’ blows chunks. Period. I like my sports movies to be like my hookers/strippers…crusty and lewd.

  11. I refused to ever watch it, based on the rhapsodic reviews given by various friends and acquaintances. It seems like The Big Chill of baseball movies. I recently watched Eight Men Out again, and it stands up all the way around. Tommy Lee Jones in Cobb wasn’t bad. That would be entertaining. A League of Their Own didn’t suck, and seemed accurate. I wish someone would try to make the definitive/accurate Babe Ruth bio-pic.

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