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Billy Chapel - Kevin Costner

Jane Aubrey - Kelly Preston

Heather Aubrey - Jena Malone

Donna Chadway - John C. Reilly

Director: Sam Raimi

Previews:  Story of Us, The Insider, Bringing Out The Dead, Three Kings, Bone Collector

Well, Kevin Costner is soon to be associated with baseball, as much as apple pie, hot-dogs, and overpaid cry babies. Thus I digress. Costner’s latest entry into the cinematic vision of America’s past time falls in third place, behind Field of Dreams, and Bull Durham, and not even in the same neighborhood as those two sports classics. The reason, because it becomes too caught up in telling a story, and forgets the sport. Confused, maybe, because Field of Dreams was more of a story, with baseball as its framework, trying the same formula here fails though, because, well, the story is overdone, and a bit convoluted and confusing.

In this nearly 2 and half hour experience, the actual baseball scenes, take up less than 30 minutes of them. That is a shame, because the baseball scenes are the best part. Just when you thought that you had seen everything that can be shown in a baseball movie, this one uses them, and adds a bit more. Also assisting is the ever present voice of Vin Scully, whose voice (along with Mel Allen) should be the soundtrack of anything involving America’s pastime. Although it’s a game between the Tigers and Yankees (and Scully bleeds Dodger blue), I can forgive the filmmakers on that little detail.

What I cannot forgive is the shameless emotional manipulation used by the flashback sequences. For as good as the movie is in its baseball scenes, it is equally as bad in its handling of the rest of the movie. When the camera zooms in on Costner, buckle up, because you know you are going into the past, and into a confusing and muddling maze of heavy handed, over done and manipulative scenes. I understand that these are meant to build a sense of conflict, turmoil, and pain, inside Costner’s character, but instead, they annoying, predictable, and even dizzying, as the flashbacks, flash forward, and at a couple of points, I even lost track of where I was, or, should I say, where the story was. My suggestion, since I am being so critical of the movie is balance. There should be equal telling of the background, and current stories, even in concurrence, which can, and has, been done before, and much better. Raimi’s attempt to make a movie to appease both sexes, emotion for the girls, sports for the guys, works on only one side, while scaring off, or even boring the other. Another suggestion, concentrate, and focus, he seemed to have so many ideas about what happened in the past, that instead of focusing, and developing a few, he tried to delve and jump into every one. Thus making the mess, that he ties up in a neat, predictable little box. I didnt mind the sports ending, as anyone walking into the theater probably knows where that is going, but throwing two (the relationship resolution as well) in there, was a bit too much

Ultimately, this is a tale of two movies, one very good, one not so good, so recommending is both easy, for the baseball, and difficult, for everything else. I believe this one will be better enjoyed in the privacy of your own home, with some store bought Cracker Jacks, hot dogs, and a lot of Kleenex. ($$ out of $$$$)

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