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FOR LOVE OF THE GAME (director: Sam Raimi; screenwriters: Dana Stevens/from the novel by Michael Shaara; cinematographer: John Bailey; editors: Eric L. Beason/Arthur Coburn; music: Basil Poledouris; cast: Kevin Costner (Billy Chapel), Kelly Preston (Jane Aubrey), John C. Reilly(Gus Sinski), Brian Cox (Gary Wheele), Jena Malone (Heather), Steve Lyons (Himself), J.K. Simmons (Frank Perry), Vin Scully (Himself), Carmine D. Giovinazzo (Ken Strout), Davis Birch (Bill Rogers), Mike Udall (Hugh Ross); Runtime: 137; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Amy Robinson;Universal 1999)
Every scene away from the ballpark is in foul territory.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A cornball tearjerker baseball story that at least has good baseball footage at Yankee Stadium to go along with its dull story. It’s based on a novel by Civil War scholar Michael Shaara, and is sentimentally written by Dana Stevens. Director Sam Raimi(“The Gift”/”A Simple Plan”) doesn’t have his best stuff and therefore can’t enhance the dramatics. Its been reported that the egotistical actor Kevin Costner got the studio to re-edit Raimi’s film to give himself more screen-time.

The forty-year-old ace pitcher of the Detroit Tigers, Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner), on the staff for the last twenty years, is pitching in the late innings a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium, on the last day of the season in a meaningless game. This gives him a chance to pause and review his life via flashback, as he muses about the magazine fashion writer he loves, Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston), and wonders if she will reject him or if they will live together with her teenage daughter Heather (Jena Malone), whom she had at sixteen. We get his reaction to learning that the Tigers have been sold to a corporation who plan to trade him. And, we are left wondering if the narcissist has cared for anything in his life but baseball.

As for me, I was bored by the privileged jock’s whining, and couldn’t wait for this phony and overlong melodramatic sports movie to end. Every scene away from the ballpark is in foul territory. But when the great Dodger sportscaster Vin Scully is on camera, I perked up momentarily.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”