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Parents' Guide to

Bang the Drum Slowly

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Talky, leisurely, and poetic baseball drama.

Movie PG 1973 96 minutes
Bang the Drum Slowly Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

A beautiful movie

It is not really "about" baseball, any more than the opera Carmen is about bullfighting. But the characters are real, and the movie is brimming with humor, heartbreak, and humanity. It offers no pat solutions to tough problems; just flawed but decent people trying to live their lives and confront tragedy as well as they can. There are some laugh-out-loud funny scenes, and some terribly sad ones. It is an eye opener for young kids to see how the humanity of a rather unattractive character is acknowledged and embraced. May be a bit heavy and slow moving for younger children.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

While the video box has a Roger Ebert thumbs-up recommendation calling this "the ultimate baseball movie," it's a foul if you expect BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY to be a lot about action. Home runs on the field and a nail-biting Big Game finale, in the manner of a family-sports frolic like Rookie of the Year: none of that here. This is a stagy, melancholy drama, filmed plainly against a baseball backdrop. All the important scenes happen off the field, with much verbal poetry made from the game's colorful slang and a lineup of eccentric owners, coaches, managers, girlfriends, retirees, and teammates, to evoke an elegy for an athlete dying young.

The narrative has no strong forward motion, no real villain or menace. The low-key treatment doesn't really spell out Wiggen's character and background motivations, maybe because he was already an established hero in a series of baseball novels by author Mark Harris. The big-screen feature came along at a time before superstar-athlete salaries (a lot of the dialogue does involve bickering over money), when baseball, especially commemorated in the nonfiction bestseller The Boys of Summer, seemed like one of the last vestiges of American innocence and goodness, after the Vietnam War and the tumultuous 1960s. Maybe that's also why the whole movie has such a wistful, achy-breaky-heart quality to it. Kids might frankly be bored by all the jabber, though ones who are deeply into sports could take some good pointers here about camaraderie.

Movie Details

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