Picks and Pans Review: 'For Love of the Game'

Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone

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Baseball has been very, very good to Kevin Costner. In Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, two movies about those diamonds that are a boy’s best friend, he gave two of his sprightliest, sexiest performances. Heading out of the dugout once more in For Love of the Game, a romantic drama about a major leaguer who’s trying to decide if it’s time to leave the game and move on with his life, Costner returns to peak form.

Which is not to say that Game is a great movie. It’s not. But it is a darned enjoyable one in a sappy, sentimental way, and it will make grown men cry, something which probably hasn’t happened since, well, Field of Dreams. Prophylactic blinking could begin for some softies even before Game‘s opening credits—showing Costner’s character as a child playing catch with his dad—are through.

In Game, Costner portrays a star Detroit Tigers pitcher, Billy Chapel, who has been throwing heat for nearly two decades. Just before a late-season game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, his off-and-on girlfriend (Preston) dumps him, and the Tigers’ owner informs Costner he has sold the team and that maybe Costner should quit now or he’ll be traded. During the course of what could possibly be his final game, Costner strikes out batter after batter, blessedly finding himself in what athletes call the Zone. The Flashback Zone is more like it, as he remembers the big moments of his career and his bumpy relationship with Preston.

As Costner heads toward a possible perfect game, and a tearful Preston (who actually makes her lip tremble) heads for the plane that will take her to a new job in London, there’s little doubt about how this will end. Helping erase even that uncertainty is Vin Scully, the real-life voice of the L.A. Dodgers, chiming in with the verbal equivalent of a laser pointer (“He’s pitching against time now”). But with Costner suited up and in shape, would you want to be anywhere but at the ballpark with him? (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Costner has good stuff

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