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Comment of the Day: Don't hate on "Field of Dreams!"

Jun 18, 2010, 5:45 PM EDT

Earlier today I slammed Field of Dreams as a “New Age mess.”  Reader DG1965 — who is either an Astromech Droid or a 45 year-old person with the initials “DG” — took issue with that characterization:

Your take down of Field of Dreams is ridiculous. Or else you were the
only male in the theater when I saw it who didn’t have red eyes on the
way out. I mean seriously: its far from perfect but a “mess”? Yeah,
the plot could have been moved along with something else. But it wasn’t.
You’re not a human being, let alone a red-blooded American male fan of
baseball if you aren’t moved by the “People will come, Ray” speech let
alone “Hey, um … Dad? Do you wanna have a catch?”

Look, I’m not made of stone. The speeches — in a vacuum — are moving. It’s gotten a bit misty in Chez Calcaterra while watching the flick on occasion. But that’s because the movie is emotionally manipulative. “Bambi” makes people cry too, but that doesn’t make it satisfying adult entertainment.  While the notions of “catch with your dad” and “baseball = good” are inarguable goods, the characters, their motivations and actions in “Field of Dreams” do absolutely nothing to justify the two hour movie that surrounds those notions.

It’s a bad movie. Bunch of sentimental hokum, really.

Now, who wants to talk about “For the Love of the Game?” 

  1. The Rabbit - Jun 18, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Yeah, the movie is manipulative but you may find the author, W.P. Kinsella, interesting.
    You might want to read “The Alligator Report, his collection of short stories.

  2. scatterbrian - Jun 18, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Even the poster sucks.

  3. John - Jun 18, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    Bull Durham FTW

  4. Gorbachav5 - Jun 18, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    Field of Dreams is my favorite baseball movie. I don’t think the same type of sentimentaility conveyed by playing catch with your father could be achieved via a different vehicle.
    Bull Durham, on the other hand, was awful. I could barely get through the movie.
    The Natural, Sandlot, A League of their Own, Major League, and Eight Men Out are all solid baseball movies.

  5. DG1965 - Jun 18, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    Wow, I got Comment of the Day. Almost as thrilling as the first time Poz referred to me as a “brilliant reader” – until I realized that he regards all of his readers as brilliant.
    Seriously though Craig, the movie is much more than just those two emotionally manipulative scenes (and since when is any movie that isn’t a straight up action flick or comedy not emotionally manipulative?). The whole segment where he goes to see the Mann character until they head out to find Moonlight Graham; the wonderful scenes with Doc Graham’s friends talking about him (what a great performance by the man who talks about the blue hats); Doc Graham’s monologue about his time in the majors and his wish for an at-bat. The whole “Watch out for in your ear” scene. That isn’t “satisfying adult entertainment”? That’s why I reject to your calling it a “mess” – even as I don’t regard the film as anything close to perfect. I hate the scene in the school gymnasium and didn’t think it was necessary to change the reclusive writer from JD Salinger to some “black radical” – which I agree screws up his big speech.
    But now you’ve upped the ante to a “bad movie … bunch of nostalgic hokum” which is just mind-boggling in the extreme. And the comment above that you couldn’t achieve the same effect on the “having a catch” moment with a different “vehicle” is absolutely correct.
    “Hey um … Dad? Do you wanna shoot some stick?”
    “Hey um … Dad? Do you wanna throw the pigskin around?”
    “Hey um … Dad? Do you wanna play some Madden?”
    So your claim about baseball being a McGuffin is totally wrong. The movie IS about baseball and how it brings people (and the nation) together and nothing else would have worked. My theory is that you hate the movie not because its blatantly manipulative but for the very fact that you were so strongly manipulated you bawled like a baby and you resent it so much you’ve rebelled against it.

  6. Loren - Jun 19, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    Right, “For the Love of the Game” then.
    I’ll say I actually enjoyed that movie quite a bit except for one thing. The whole plot crumbles once you realize that Costner’s charater would have had 5 and 10 rights and could have just refused the trade that was making everything so dramatic.
    That complaint probably says more about me than the movie though.

  7. Jack Marshall - Jun 19, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    “Field of Dreams” gave Burt Lancaster the greatest screen exit any major star ever had in his final big screen American movie. This alone makes it a great movie. And the fact that it has Oil Can Boyd.
    But Craig is right—it’s stupid, even by its own terms. My favorite idiotic moment: Ray Kinsella’s little girl has fallen and is unconscious. His wife says “I’m going to call 911.” Ray says, in effect–“No, wait—I know she may be brain damaged or dead in a few seconds, but I have a hunch this kid is going to turn into this country doctor once he crosses the white line. Let’s see…”

  8. Andy L - Jun 19, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    I don’t like Field of Dreams OR Bull Durham. Costner just sucks way too much. Weird as it sounds, I think my favorite baseball movie is A League of Their Own. At least it’s funny.

  9. Wooden U Lykteneau - Jun 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Not counting Vic Morrow in the Twilight Zone of course.

  10. Minnesota Matt - Jun 19, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    I put together my favorite baseball movies.
    It was going to be a list of 9 but I got carried away.
    What do you think?
    1. Pride of the Yankees (A heartbreaking performance by Cooper, co-starring Babe Ruth)
    2. Bull Durham (If the Natural nails the fantasy of baseball, Bull Durham nails the reality)
    3. For The Love Of The Game (We all dream of “going out on top” and proving to ourselves that it all meant something.)
    4. Field of Dreams (We can all relate to wanting that one more moment with our fathers, especially boys playing catch. )
    5. The Natural (If only we could all walk down the street and hear “there goes the best that ever was.”)
    6. Eight Men Out (Great account of baseball’s troubled past.…Beginning of baseball’s modern Era.)
    7. The Rookie (Real life dreams can come true, even in Texas.)
    8. Bang the Drum Slowly (The essence and spirit of friendship)
    9. A League of Their Own (Sometimes there’s talent where you least expect it. And that talent should never be squandered.)
    10. (Extra Innings) Major League I, II, and yes, even III (Wild Thing…hilarious)
    I haven’t seen “Fear Strikes Out” in a long time but the story is very good even though the baseball depicted is awful and unrealistic.
    I also like *61, but it was made for cable, so I didn’t include it. It is a great film, with a lot of great baseball research behind it; Billy did a great job.
    As for Fever Pitch, I hate the Red Sox, (I also dislike the White Sox and the Cubs), so I just cannot make myself watch that film. I have seen parts of the beginning of it, but not the ending.
    I also have a soft spot in my heart for Mr. Baseball with Tom Selleck. (It is dated and I haven’t seen a good DVD transfer.)
    And of course, Little Big League, just because it is about the Twins. (I love the Twins.)

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