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Sugar (2008)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 120
Fresh: 111 | Rotten: 9

Sugar is an exceptionally-crafted film -- part sports flick, part immigrant tale -- with touching and poignant drama highlighted by splendid performances.


Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 39
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 4

Sugar is an exceptionally-crafted film -- part sports flick, part immigrant tale -- with touching and poignant drama highlighted by splendid performances.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 12,324

My Rating

Movie Info

Filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (Half Nelson) weave this introspective sports drama concerning a talented Dominican baseball player who longs to break into the American big league and earn the money needed to support his impoverished family. Miguel Santos is a talented pitcher who might just have what it takes to earn a prized spot on a Major League Baseball team, but before that happens he'll have to prove his worth in the minor leagues. Advancing into the United States' minor league


Sports & Fitness, Drama


Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden

Sep 1, 2009


Sony Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (120) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (9) | DVD (2)

Sugar, a baseball movie, an immigrant parable and a thoroughly entertaining drama that accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of putting a fresh face on the fractured American Dream.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Not only have director-writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck crafted a poignant immigrant tale, they've made a sports saga rife with rare truths.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The camera is on Sugar the whole time, but the faux-documentary approach keeps him out of reach in all the ways that really matter.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

To tell you what happens to him from here would be a tremendous disservice. We'll just say that, refreshingly, nothing about it is sickly sweet.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A rich and moving reminder of the way professional sports aspirations can shape someone's destiny in the real world.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a tragic sports movie that shies away from every element of tragedy.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I've watched thousands of baseball games and seen tons of baseball movies, but Sugar opened new doors of understanding and insight.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the makers of Half Nelson, return with another subtly observed drama about a character on the outskirts of mainstream America.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: NOW Toronto
NOW Toronto

Boden and Fleck are attentive to detail and the nuances of social interaction -- in the cornfields of Middle America as well as in the Dominican Republic. And Sugar is a thorny but endearing hero.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

It is full of so much humor, grace, and unexpected detail, and arrives in such a truthful place, that in the end it's far more enthralling than the typical rags-to-riches tale one might have anticipated.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Follows its own path, defying stereotypes and avoiding just about every sports-movie cliché and fish-out-of-water convention, all the way to the end.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

We begin to get the feeling that the United States of Baseball is somehow grander and more generous than the United States of America.

August 18, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

A portrait of an immigrant, a sports movie commentating on the machinations of American sport and a coming-of-age drama: Sugar is not short of subject matter.

March 1, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Steroids enter the equation, but "Sugar's" narrative turns feel more generous than obvious - emphasizing baseball's calming, community ideas over its cult of personality. The gravity of Miguel's plight stays with you, but so does his eventual peace.

October 16, 2010 Full Review Source:

Fresh perspectives offer fresh ideas, even if they don't result in a smile and a happy Frank Sinatra song about love.

August 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Views

At a time when sabermetrics break players down into pages of predictive statistics, Sugar delivers a potent reminder of off-the-field challenges that affect performance on the field.

January 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Not your usual film about chasing the American dream, Sugar gains mileage instead from a more sober brand of inspiration while imparting wisdom in the form of welcome reality checks.

January 25, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

In a word, Sugar is extraordinary.

December 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Though a little long at two hours, Sugar is a treat for any serious student of baseball.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times | Comment (1)
Washington Times

Audience Reviews for Sugar

This was the follow up to Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's surprise hit Half Nelson, and, like that one, this is a smart, heartfelt tale that has a great message, but is still entertaining without being overly preachy.

The story concerns 19 year-old Miguel "Sugar" Santos, a talented pitcher from the Dominican Republic who dreams of getting sent to the U.S. to make it big in the major leagues. Before he can get that far though, he has to start lower, and his big dreams start off with him being sent through the ranks of the minor leagues, where he ends up in a small Iowa town. His experiecnes there, mostly involving his struggles with a foreign language and culture cause him to start reevaluating his life's ambition and make him question if he's really on the right path in life.

This is a sports movie, but not in the typical sense. It's mostly a character study about the immigrant experience in the U.S., with a nice examination specifically of Latin American and Caribbean athletes and how they fit into the big picture. I originally thought this was a documentary, or perhaps a docudrama, but no, the specific story is entirely fictional, though it is heavily influenced by real life stories

That I thought this was non-fiction is a testament to Boden and Fleck's knowledge of the subject, and the high leve lof authenticity and honesty on display in the film. They did their homework, and realy know their stuff, and the result is a wonderful look at both the immigrant experience, and the world of immigrants in the minor leagues.

If I have to air complaints, then I'll point out that the film's overall pacing could have been perhaps a bit tighter, and how the third act overall seems to lose a lot of momentum I thought. It doesn't derail completely, but it does start to drag. Also, the way the flm was done just seemed really "typical" to me. There's no denying this is an indie film, and it seems like the film wants that fact to be known. Kidna got to me a bit, especially since Boden and Fleck's other two major films are like that as well (to varying degrees).

All in all though, this is a really decent film. It's got some good performances, a great message, and is an insightful look into a neat subject.
January 25, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

This is not a sports film at all; Baseball is only the setting for a story of human experience. Sugar is a wonderfully crafted movie, a story of opportunity and adaptation made more effective through the perspective of an immigrant chasing his "one opportunity" for success. The journey is fascinating, the progress from a baseball academy in the D.R. to living with an Iowa family and finally living in New York surronded by others who had made the journey before. Sugar is a uniquely American story told in a refreshingly honest way.
February 24, 2010
Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

a wonderful baseball movie that sits tragically as a hidden gem. the end of the film left too much uncertainty for a character that we came to care about, but the journey we travel to the point of being left wondering is a heartfelt and worth while journey. if you love baseball then watch this film, it leaves the normal cliches of overdone "feel good" sports films behind.
November 17, 2009
danny d

Super Reviewer

"Welcome to America, son!"

Dominican baseball star Miguel "Sugar" Santos is recruited to play in the U.S. minor-leagues.

Filmed in quasi-documentary style, the film appears on the surface to be about the Latino dream of making it to the major leagues. Upon closer review, the family and friends of Sugar only ask "Are you going to the states?". The crux of the film lies not so much in the long odds of making it to the show, but moreso, simply escaping the homeland ... it's just that baseball is viewed as the quickest ticket out.

The "Half Nelson" writer/director team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck score again with "Sugar". What really hit home with me was how many people miss out on their real chance because they just have a simple shortage of passion for their talent. When Sugar bashes the water cooler, it's not because he pitched poorly, but rather because he fears he will be shipped back home.

There are many fine moments in this and the final act twist is not just terrific story telling, but fitting as well. It does what a final act should do ... connect the dots. Think back to the domino scene when one guy spouts that he once hit 98 in spring training. The recognition that he is back home playing dominoes is the real story. Good stuff.

First time actor Algenis Perez Soto perfectly captures the charm and innocence of Sugar and finally the harsh reality of the situation. This is one to see.
October 20, 2009
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Sugar (2008) (DE)
  • Sugar (2008) (CA)
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