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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/5/00

For Love of the Game
1999 (2000) - Universal

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

For Love of the Game Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/B+

Specs and Features

138 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 54.42, in chapter 7), Amaray keep case packaging, Spotlight on Location featurette, trailers for For Love of The Game and The Nutty Professor 2: Klumps, a text history of baseball's perfect games with a complete list, On The Mound interactive trivia game (winner sees Play Ball With Babe Ruth: Slide, Babe, Slide short), 10 deleted scenes, production notes, cast and crew bios, DVD-ROM materials (including website information), film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

"You and the ball and the diamond - you're perfect. You're a perfectly beautiful thing. You can win or lose the game all by yourself."

Love, like baseball, is a team sport. You can't play either by yourself. Sure, you can practice all you want, but it's an empty experience without someone to go up against. But what happens when the passion falls out of it? Is it worth going on? Is it worth pursuing that thrill if it's just not in you anymore? Those are the questions this film asks. For Love of the Game is a good movie. Not great mind you, but good enough to mark the last film in Costner's "baseball trilogy".

Kevin Costner went from fan (Field of Dreams) to the minor leagues (Bull Durham) all the way to the pros with this film. Here he plays Billy "Chappy" Chapel, a 19-year career player with a guaranteed spot in the Hall of Fame. In what will ultimately be his last professional game, Chappy starts to zone out. He's standing on the mound, up against the New York Yankees in their own stadium. As he throws his pitches, we see that his mind is more on the losses in his life than of the accomplishments. Before the game, Billy has just found that his on-again off-again girlfriend is finally leaving him for good. All he can do is think about the good, the bad and how it all went wrong. It makes for a pretty engaging film.

It also helps that Costner is built for playing baseball heroes. He's totally believable and very engaging. I liked this film. Like I said, it's not the best film I've seen, but it's a pretty dern good one. I'm not a big baseball fan, but I do enjoy character studies. This is ultimately a bold character study. I say bold, because it takes some balls to make a movie about a man's relationship while he throws a perfect game. Not a whole lot of excitement potential there. Thankfully, the producers got Sam Raimi to direct, and he is quite able to find excitement in any scenario.

This DVD from Universal is not all that it could be. Although the picture is a solid anamorphic transfer, there is some heavy grain apparent in a few darker scenes. The color and light play is pretty good, but with so much grain, I found the picture a bit distracting. The lighter moments play out fine, and the trick TV broadcast "cut-to" shots come off very well. I would have liked to have seen more solid blacks though. On the sound side, you'll find a pretty good Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Universal chose to forgo adding DTS to this disc, but there's no real loss there. The sound field is not too fired up, which is sort of shocking considering the enormous stadium sounds the disc had the chance to play with. One neat effect does come through though -- the "clear the mechanisms" all have an enormous build and then muted hush, which sounds pretty killer. There's only three or so moments though. This is a fine disc for what it is, but I think Universal could have done a better job.

The extras on board more than make up for it though. Even if it's lacking a commentary track, this DVD feels like a buffed out movie-only edition. Considering the film, I think it's fine and dandy. There's the usual Spotlight on Location featurette on the making of the film. You also get an interactive trivia game (the reward for winning is a hidden short starring Babe Ruth), a text history of "The Perfect Game" (with a chart on who did it and when), a trailer and a huge chunk of outtakes (about 22 minutes worth, which in most cases features the whole scene the cuts were trimmed from). Add that to the production notes, cast and crew bios and a web-link, and you have a disc you can play with for a few hours.

I wouldn't recommend replacing your day out on the diamond with this disc, but if you have a rain delay, I can't think of a better way to pass the time. This is a surprisingly good film, and one that deserves to be seen. Give it a chance and you might just find your own love for the game. Batter up.

Todd Doogan
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