Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Natural (1984) [PG] ****

In 1923, talented young baseball pitcher Roy Hobbs bid goodbye to his girlfriend Iris and boarded a train for Chicago, and a tryout with the Cubs. His dream was to be the best there ever was. On the train Roy met a famous slugger, and when the train made a stop, Roy found himself in an impromptu contest. Roy struck out the man with three pitches, but unfortunately he also met a woman obsessed with the need to destroy athlete heroes. Tragedy struck, and Roy never made it to his tryout.

Sixteen years later, a much older and wiser Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) walks into the dugout of the last-place New York Knights. In his batting debut, he knocks the cover off the baseball and wins the game. Roy is a natural hitter, and his skills revitalize the team. Unfortunately, not everyone wants the Knights to win the pennant, especially the Judge, who is part owner of the team, and Gus, a wealthy bookie. Gus recruits his glamorous girlfriend Memo (Kim Basinger) to distract Roy, and once again, Roy's fascination with a femme fatale threatens to destroy him. Word of Roy's exploits on the baseball field reaches Iris (Glenn Close), now a single mother living in Chicago with her teenage son, and she goes to see Roy play. The goodness she radiates mysteriously lifts him out of a batting slump, and their reunion restores and reinvigorates him.

This is an allegorical drama, played out on a baseball field, in which the forces of good and evil battle for a man's soul. Its underlying philosophy is that if you've got a talent, but rely on it too much, and don't work to develop your ethical principles and moral values, then you will fail. The screenplay, direction, supporting cast, and sets are excellent. Randy Newman's score is uplifting and heroic. If you enjoy baseball-themed romances, especially films like Field of DreamsFor Love of the Game, and The Rookie, then you'll love The Natural.

Labels: baseball, drama, romance
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=71, viewers=74)

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