Friday, April 2, 2010
It's been a long time since there was a really good baseball movie that came out. There's been some decent documentaries but I can't really think of any enjoyable baseball movies to hit the theatres since The Rookie eight years ago. Before that you have to go back to the baseball movie heydays between 1988 and 1992 when we had Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, Major League and Eight Men Out.
Now I know that some of you will want to argue that I'm forgetting about a couple of fantastic flicks like Battlefield Baseball and Ed. To you, people with no taste and Matt LeBlanc's Mom, I say no, I'm not.
I kept seeing good things about Sugar, though, throughout the baseball community and decided to check it out. Not a bad flick although I'm not necessarily sure I'd call it a baseball movie. The movie is about a kid from the Dominican Republic, nicknamed Sugar (either because he's sweet for the ladies or he eats too much dessert) and his attempts to become a major league pitcher to provide a better life for his family. He is enrolled at a baseball academy in the D.R. that is operated by the Kansas City Knights. The Knights invite him to spring training and he is fast-tracked to the Knights' Class A affiliate in Iowa. Sugar starts off well, gets injured, struggles when he comes back and quits the team with a couple weeks left in the season and moves to New York City.
For me, the most interesting aspects of the movie were the struggles that the D.R. ballplayers experienced adjusting to life in the United States, especially in small-town Iowa. Host families, coaches and instructors who don't speak anything other than English, unusual food (most of the players eat French toast because one of them learned the phrase and shared it), being far away from family at a rather young age. Add in the pressures of baseball where there's always someone ahead of you you need to supplant and always someone behind you you have to stave off and you can understand how many players would not cope well with it.
The end of the movie demonstrates that incredibly well and also shows that you can have a happy life, even when your dreams fail you.
From a baseball standpoint, the play was pretty good. Not as heavy on the "Baseball has two-plays, the strikeout and the home run" action shots that you see in many baseball flicks.
A very good movie. If I had paid to see it in a theatre, I would have been viewed it as money well spent. As a rental, I think it's a no-brainer if you like baseball movies. I'd give it 3.5-4 stars.