I think sometimes people forget that athletes and celebrities are humans too. Heck, even I find myself getting caught up in it all sometimes at these events and forget that these athletes have families and lives just like the rest of us. Sure, I loved watching the film explore Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris' power on the field, but it was fascinating to watch them go about their lives outside the diamond in an entirely different manner. I'm not sure how much of this movie is heightened or "Hollywood-ized", but that didn't really play into the determining factor for me. Personally, I feel as though 61* rivals some of the great sports movies in balancing on and off the field issues.
However, the film isn't without its flaws. 61* is a 2001 HBO movie made for TV, and I think that showed. The CGI, or lack thereof, was very noticeable, especially in the moments that needed to hit well. For example, I don't really need to see a slow-motion incredibly fake baseball coming towards my face before Roger smacks it out of the park. And I feel as though this movie had a tough time with the really big emotional and dramatic moments. Don't get me wrong, I like both Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane in the lead roles but I don't think their performances come close to Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams or Robert Redford in The Natural. Not that they necessarily need to, but when the games are in their biggest moments, it felt like a TV production.
But as I said, this movie holds up incredibly well because of its content matter, especially now that baseball is desperately needing another HR race for its popularity. Plus, if we wipe away the guys who broke the record using steroids, Maris would still hold it with 61. It's actually remarkable what Maris was able to do at that particular stage of baseball, and considering he was never really able to recapture that power. So just for loving the game of baseball alone, 61* is worth a look.
So, I look at the rating and say: "Yeah, it was bad. Thank God I don't remember". I wish I could say the same thing about my half-star ratings.