In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_split_ver3

Split

It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Festivals & Awards Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

The Perfect Game

The Perfect Game Movie Review
  |  

Once in a very long time, a film “based on a true story” is both true, and almost too good to be a story. Perhaps anticipating any suspicion, William Dear intercuts newsreel footage from 1957 with “The Perfect Game,” frequently piping into the past for black and white, and then segueing into the color of the present day. These players really lived, and this game was really played.

Advertisement

The film begins in Monterrey, Mexico, seen here as an impoverished town with many baseball fans, who follow the Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio with nearly religious intensity. We meet young Angel Macias (Jake T. Austin), who aims at a bucket fastened to a wall as a strike zone and dreams of greatness on the mound. His father is not so enthusiastic.

The setup is traditional. The town's boys have time on their hands and need an activity to keep them out of mischief. Enter wise, gentle Padre Esteban (Cheech Marin), who thinks a baseball team might help. Newly returned to town is Cesar Faz (Clifton Collins Jr.), who was a prospect for the St. Louis team but was devalued and shunted aside, possibly because he was Mexican. Unable to take more of St. Louis management's racism, he returned home and is recruited by Padre Esteban, not without difficulty, to coach the kids' team.

Because the film is titled “The Perfect Game,” you expect one to be pitched. You do not expect it to be pitched in Monterrey. You sort of know how these underdog sports movies turn out. Doesn't matter. “The Perfect Game” so expertly uses the charisma and personalities of the actors, especially the young ones, that it's thrilling anyway.

Advertisement

The scenes at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., make the contrast seem so dramatic between the teams in the final game — the Mexicans seemingly a foot shorter on average than their American counterparts. The director Dear cannot, by the very nature of his story, avoid certain cliches, but the way he orchestrates the big game is sure and confident, and there's that life we often feel at the end of an underdog story.

In the years since, the Little League World Series has become blown out of proportion, verging on the exploitation of the players. They're trained within an inch of their lives, placed under enormous pressure and subjected to punishing media scrutiny. It's not a game anymore. In 1957, these kids were playing. And it was a perfect game.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Films to Get Us Through The Trump Presidency

Chaz Ebert highlights films with the potential to get us through the confusing political times of the Trump presidenc...

Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" an Unfunny Parody of Sadness

A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.

The Audacious "Something Wild" Comes to Criterion Blu-ray

One of the most audacious American films from the 1960s is now available via the Criterion Collection.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus