Last fall, in the midst of the World Series, Dre gave his take on the best and worst of baseball movies:
Best: The Natural, The Sandlot, Major League, 9 Innings From Ground Zero, Bull Durham
Worst: Mr. Baseball, For Love of the Game, Mr. League: Back To The Minors, Summer Catch, Ed
With the opening week of the 2007 season having just ended, we thought we'd revisit this genre of sports movies. Here, our Austin correspondent, Cargill, takes a closer look at Dre's picks, and provides a few observations of his own:
Best of. Alright, now Dre and I are somewhat on the same page here. Of course he went the easy route in his Best/Worst of Baseball Movies entry, and chose The Natural as his top pick. Whoopie. Big deal. Real risk taker there, Dre. It's only one of the single best films of the '80s, let alone films about baseball. And while you seemed to think you're stepping outside the plate to name The Sandlot, EVERYONE who grew up with it loves it. And Major League, that's definitely top 5 material. But here I'm gonna have to say that Bad News Bears makes the grade, being that it is the very model that some of the best sports films are built upon. The idea of an underdog sports film in which the underdogs lose -- yet stand triumphant -- is something that any film rarely gets as right as this. And forget you, Dre, Field of Dreams, man. Didn't you have a dad, you black-hearted, ne'er-do-well? Some of us aren't made of wood, you know. Field of Dreams reminds us of that.
Worst of. Okay, we've got Matt LeBlanc with a monkey. Check. Major League 3. Check. Summer Catch? Come on, it ain't that bad. It ain't that good, but, picking on a guy like Freddie Prinze Jr., you might as well head on down to the Special Olympics and heckle (I submit to you that Mr. Prinze has never acted a day in his life). At least Summer Catch stars Jessica Biel and her two best friends. This was an easy target compared to Bad News Bears Go to Japan, a movie so bad it spares Linklater's Billy Bob update from the list. And that's speaking volumes. And Mr. Baseball? Come on, that doesn't even come close to the rank smell emanating from Sandlot 2, a movie that makes you almost wish the first one never existed. For the Love of the Game? Really? If you want to beat up on sappy, over-sentimentalized, wooden pap, where's the bile for Keanu Reeves in Hardball? The most important thing in life is showing up? No. Really. I wish I hadn't. The most important thing in life is beating the crap out of Keanu and getting my hour and a half of that life back.
Yeah, I went the easy route with The Natural, but what do you want me to do? Try and play off Rookie of the Year as the best baseball flick ever? I can't be contrary just to look cool. Besides, it never worked for you. Oh! Deep to left center! It is high ... it is far ... this one is outta here!
I figured there were big fans of The Sandlot out there, but I deliberately chose it over Bad News Bears because of the two, I prefer Michael "Squints" Palledorous. Plus, Jackie Earle Haley creeps me out, even as a kid. And if I didn't include Major League on the list, do you have any idea what Charlie Sheen would have done to me? He has nothing left. Nothing!
Field of Dreams was a hard cut because I really do love the movie, but when it came down to it, 9 Innings From Ground Zero spoke to me even more. Also, my dad wasn't one to play catch. He liked to throw things at me, not to me. Love you anyway, pops.
A word on Summer Catch ... dude, it is that bad. Prinze Jr. I can take. Matthew Lillard I can barely take. Prinze Jr. + Matthew Lillard = gateway to hell. Biel was basically a siren luring me to my death. And I challenge anyone to sit through Mr. Baseball without at least considering mass murder.
I haven't seen Bad News Bears Go to Japan in eons (you might want to check your flux capacitor). As for The Sandlot 2, you're now in direct-to-video territory. When you're not beating up on direct-to-video movies, what keeps you busy? The elderly? For The Love of the Game made the cut because it had so much promise and it was just plain dull. Finally, I will always have a soft spot for all things Keanu. Keany does kung-fu. Keanu does hell. Keanu does Buddha. Keanu does football. Keanu does Bad News Bears-only-with-inner-city-kids is damn near genius. Plus, I see your Jessica Biel and raise you Diane Lane.
Cargill, I enjoyed our little one-on-one and look forward to our next showdown when we discuss the top religious films ever made. Things just might get bloody. Go Yankees!- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thanks, Dre and Cargill!
Dre writes five times a week for Film.com, covering movies and DVD with his Floridian flare. E-mail him!
Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD two times a week.