For Love of the Game Reviews
I admit, I like "Bull Durham" and "Fields Of Dreams", they are different from eachother but still has baseball as the pillar of the story. "For Love Of The Game" is not an exception and we get to see a great performance from Costner in a slightly similar role to the one he did in "Bull Durham". We are confronted by the difficulties of a relationship and the joy of a relationship, love, trust and as well the realisation that something is coming to an end and how you handle that. I love the idea of how Billy Chapel reflects on the past five years of his life from the pitchers mound and realising, that his life has been anything but perfect, despite the fact that he is pitching a perfect game at the same time. I think itīs well made and believable from many angles. Specifically the baseball games has been handled and shot in a great way and Sam Raimi takes you all along right down to the field to feel the action. I like for example that he crosscut a lot to "televised" shots during the final game in the movie, that gives the whole atmosphere a really authentic feeling with replays and all. Details, great details. Costner feels so at home in a movie like this, and the role itself is just made for Costner. The fact that he himself through god knows how many pitches during the shoot makes the whole environment glow from an in-depth live feeling of baseball. "For Love Of The Game" might have some sappy moments, but the general set up is of my liking.
For Love of the Game essentially goes back and forth between the two central genres of the story which are melodramatic romance and generic sports. While the sporting aspect of the film ends up being entertaining, the romantic aspect is not. The thing is that For Love of the Game has the passion to be a good sporting movie and the budget to depict some entertaining scenes, but the romantic theme in the film just really drags it down. For Love of the Game had the potential to be a thoughtful film depicting the way that a human's emotions manifest themselves physically on the person and affects their lifestyle, particularly in a sporting themed setting this time, but it ends up resorting to going in circles through all the essential generic storytelling elements.
The romantic story in For Love of the Game is usually a subplot in a sports movie while the general focus is more on the sporting aspect, but Dana Stevens' script focuses more on the aspect of the romance which is not that good. The romance in the story does not contribute to making the characters strong at all and it is just soppy sentimentality which turns melodramatic without firm dramatisation. For Love of the Game could have been a good sports movie, and the direction of Sam Raimi was precisely what proved that to be the case. But since it quickly sinks into tedious melodrama which is not that entertaining. It circulates this again and again at a slow pace until the end of the 137 minute running time. If you can honestly sit through that much tedious hokum then For Love of the Game is the film for you. Others will not have the same sense of enjoyment.
The problem comes down to the script. I mean the language of the film is fine but it is too focused on creating some kind of romantic dilemma which it just cannot. The romance in the film is cheap and weak, and it does not match up to the quality of the baseball scenes. While Sam Raimi does his best to maintain the nature of the script, it is written to have a poor nature and so the execution of it ensures that it cannot exceed that. For Love of the Game is stuck within limitations of its script that nothing can succeed, not even the quality of Sam Raimi's direction.
Thankfully, For Love of the Game does benefit from Sam Raimi's direction. When it is on the baseball field, For Love of the Game is entertaining because it has a lot of great baseball sequences which are shot with powerful cinematography and edited nicely. The scenery of the film is also very nice as it renders everything convincing, so it is exciting to watch Kevin Costner get back to playing baseball once again even if he has to go through tedious romance to do it. And while it does not live up to the standards of the Academy Award nominated Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, For Love of the Game has some memorable baseball sequences which ensure that the film is fun when on the field even though it is poor when off it. It is at least nice to see Sam Raimi taking on a more lighthearted genre for once because he gives the film style and atmosphere, and frankly he works as hard as one can with material that is so lacklustre.
The cast of For Love of the Game evoke a rather mixed response
Kevin Costner gives a nice leading performance in For Love of the Game because he is gentle and allows his natural persona to take over the part. He makes himself an easily likable lead based on the fact that he establishes a sense of determination in him which has viewers siding with him as he progresses through his baseball career. Although the romance of the film is tedious, Kevin Costner plays himself into it well so he manages to turn in a performance which has him working as both a man of romance and a sports hero well enough. Kevin Costner constantly maintains the right level of passion in his performance which makes him a genial presence, and his nomination for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor is just ridiculous. For Love of the Game is one of the lesser quality baseball films Kevin Costner has starred I, but his performance is one of the best aspects of it.
Kelly Preston is not all that great though. I found that her performance mainly consisted of her overthinking everything and delivering it in a melodramatic way which reinforced the already negative nature of the romance behind For Love of the Game. You'd think she had landed the contract on a soap opera with how she acts in For Love of the Game because it is really poor form. Although her chemistry with Kevin Costner is ok because it seems like they really share something, Kelly Preston is really not admirable for her performance in For Love of the Game because she is too over the top for her own good or for the good of the film itself which has her dragging it down when she tries to steal it.
John C. Reilly is always a nice presence, so in For Love of the Game he is good to have around because of the kind of chemistry that he shares with Kevin Costner and how the friendship they develop makes an impact on the story as it tries to progress.
Jena Malone pulls off a nice supporting performance though as her childish charm has the strength to appeal to viewers while her natural charisma and easy ability to interact with the surrounding cast boost her credibility.
So For Love of the Game benefits from a decent leading performance from Kevin Costner and stylish direction from Sam Raimi, but due to an excess of melodramatic romance and a poor leading performance from Kelly Preston, it ends up being a swing and a miss.