Catching Hell - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Catching Hell Reviews

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January 15, 2016
1/15/16 ESPN.COM
Another home run by Alex Gibney, forgive the pun. Excellent story telling, player and fan interviews and actual game footage show how one simple act, an error in Buckner's case and a reach for a foul ball in Bartman's case can change a life forever. Everyone forgets Calvin Schiraldi giving up 3 hits and Bob Stanley's wild pitch before the error. Everyone forgets Alex Gonzalez booting a sure inning ending easy double play grounder after the Bartman incident which would have prevented the huge inning the Marlins had. Fans, history and the game can be beautiful and cruel in the same game.
½ January 2, 2016
Leads you to believe it is about the near end to the Chicago Cubs 95 year World Series drought only to reinforce ESPN's east coast bias with the Boston Red Sox almost contemporary 1986 failure. Thank you ESPN.
½ March 1, 2015
Incisive documentary delves not only into the historical aspects of the 2003 event, but also the craziness of rabid sports fans.
½ September 9, 2014
Although we never hear from the man himself in the film, Catching Hell's humane and decent treatment of Steve Bartman shines a very bright light on our own lack of humanity when it comes to sports. Bartman shouldered much of the blame and a barrage of bad publicity after the Cubs choked themselves out of the 2003 NLCS, but he was singled out of a much larger group of fans who supposedly interfered with the ball and potentially cost them the game.
January 26, 2014
A fantastic documentary, but also a bummer, in a good way. You'll feel really bad about Steve Bartman, and the mood of the film is eerie.
November 8, 2013
A clumsy, unfocused, attempt at exploring fan psychology and theories around scapegoating. Nevertheless, a good watch as sport once again throws up a story stranger than fiction
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2013
"Catching Hell" is an exhaustive and even-handed documentary, centered around the infamous moment in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs wherein Moises Alou failed to make the play on a foul ball in the eighth inning.(In fact, the footage here is analyzed more thoroughly than the Zapruder footage ever was.) As Alou testifies later and the documentary proves, he would have made the catch without the fans going after the ball. While Steve Bartman was not the only one trying to catch it, he is the only one remembered. In their defense, the documentary concludes that it was only natural behavior(For the prosecution, Scott Turow disagrees, however) on the fans' part, as some of them are also interviewed. And maybe the Cubs would have gone on to win the game if Alou had caught the ball, but we'll never know for sure. What I did notice is that the Cubs pitcher Mark Prior had thrown 112 pitches up to that point, so maybe he was tiring. But the one thing the documentary fails to mention anything about is the Chicago White Sox(well, except for Steve Lyons' personal moment of infamy which is still really funny, by the way). Especially the part about them winning the World Series in 2005, breaking their own 88 year streak of futility which must have been like pouring lemon juice on the still festering wound of the Chicago Cubs fans.

In a more general sense, "Catching Hell" also examines the history of the word scapegoat in its mission to show how some people are unfairly blamed. As long as we're on the subject of etymology, it should be noted that a possible origin for the word fan comes from fanatic, for which we see plenty of examples here.
½ September 11, 2013
Another outstanding edition of the 30 for 30 documentaries on ESPN. I like shows/films that can dissect a small incident...shows about bricks, ice, etc. This documentary is the epitome of a life changing unexpectedly, instantly.

I actually did not know much about this prior to watching Ken Burns' baseball documentary a few weeks back. It was mentioned in there, but this documentary is the full story. The big Cubs fan who merely reaches up for a foul ball, then gets blamed for some awful baseball. It's just a terrific story all around. Gibney did a great job of capturing it.

It's not terrific in the sense of good and bad for humanity. Every clown who booed Bartman that night and after is an asshole and an idiot. But there's a good chance I would have done the same had I been in at Wrigley Field on that night. And that's the magic of the story. Everything that happened is so absurd...but it happened and people still talk about it.

My bottom line is this: Bartman did nothing wrong. I often get out of the way of balls, etc during high school events because the items coming into the crowd are not worth catching an accidental elbow, etc. But if I'm at that game six and the Cubbies are five outs away from a trip to the series...I'm grabbing that ball. Everyone around Bartman went for the ball. Everyone who cares about baseball would have went for that ball. While it did change the momentum in the game, it sure didn't have to. Only one run had crossed before the star shortstop - best fielding percentage in the league that year - booted an inning-ending double play. That cost the Cubs the game. They blew it themselves in game seven. There is no curse, just inconsistent baseball. That one man has suffered such a price for going for a foul ball when we all would have done the same thing...shame on Cubs fans who still think that way.
July 27, 2013
One of the best documentaries I've seen.
June 12, 2013
No matter what sport you like, at the end of the day it's just a game. However, worldwide this doesn't seem to be the case anymore; Catching Hell does an incredible job at getting this point across. Focusing primarily on the Steve Bartman incident during the 2003 NLCS, Catching Hell, reveals how this events mirror the Bill Buckner error in the 1986 World Series as well as looking into the phenomenon of sports curses. The story of the Steve Bartmen incident are still felt today, especially by Chicago Cubs fans, is studied and presented extremely well and shows new information I had previously not known. Alex Gibney does a terrific job at placing every story element from Bartman to mythology and gives a great understanding into all the events. I'd always felt for Bartman, but after this I felt even more and more disgusted in the Cubs fan base than I ever did before, and most will agree it does this job very well.

Overall, Catching Hell is the best sports documentary I've ever seen and shows how powerful a stupid game can be amongst society.
March 12, 2013
Really compelling look at the details of the Barkman play in congruity with the Buckner play. Very good story-telling. Really paints a sympathetic picture, as well as an ugly one for baseball fans.
½ March 8, 2013
probably the strongest 30 for 30 i've seen so far because it really goes for an overarching theme beyond this well-documented story. like scapegoating is a pretty common theme in all sports but especially in baseball because out of any of the big sports it's the most unpredictable and it's why it's the most superstitious and ppl really love to latch onto things they can lay the blame to rather than to accept that life is meaningless and random chaos theory lol. what the fuck am i talking about
September 3, 2012
This ESPN documentary took on cosmic proportions. The story of Steve Bartman has it all: mystery, tragedy, and the sublime. I can't do it justice. See it as soon as possible.
½ August 5, 2012
As uninterested in baseball as I am, still an engaging look at the human condition.
½ July 7, 2012
I feel so bad for Steve Bartman. Talk about ultimate bullying!
July 4, 2012
(Watched Sat 24 Dec 2011) It's only a game. Or is it?
½ April 16, 2012
Absolutely brilliant. Really points out how anyone would have done the same thing that Bartman did. Scapegoating is no doubt all that it was. Human beings are hypocrites and this points that out in haunting detail.
January 11, 2012
The oft-delayed "lost chapter" of ESPN's 30 for 30 series, this strives to be more than just a routine examination of the infamous Steve Bartman incident that may (or may not) have cost the Chicago Cubs a shot at the 2003 World Series. With the famously publicity-shy Bartman refusing to take part, the film instead leans on interviews with several of the fans to rub elbows with him that fateful evening and insightful confessionals from the announce crew that called the game, a good portion of the Cubs' starting lineup, the local news team that outed Bartman's identity to the public and several of the security guards that escorted him to safety as the situation escalated. Director Alex Gibney deserves credit for not only painting a broad, fair portrait of a chaotic, emotionally charged situation, but for rightly comparing it to other instances of misplaced blame and shameless scapegoating in pro sports and asking the difficult question of what exactly spins a knee-jerk reaction into a bonafide vendetta. Though the scrutiny of the Bartman play itself is a bit too intense at times, resulting in a run-time that's about 30 minutes too long, it accomplishes much more than a simple reenactment and should leave any serious sports fan wondering how many times they've reacted with the same brainless mob mentality over the years. Smart, challenging and honest; it's what any good documentary should strive to be.
½ December 27, 2011
As I told Courtney the other day, I will watch anything about sports (sports documentaries, sports movies), but I won't watch sports.
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