Extra Innings

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Extra Innings Movie Poster Image
Suicide, mental illness, sex in coming-of-age drama.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 117 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Coming-of-age drama explores themes of pursuing one's dreams and the tensions that arise when these dreams are against the wishes of traditional parents. Mental illness in families, and how mental illness was viewed and treated in the early 1960s, is explored. The emotional devastation of the loss of a loved one to suicide is shown, with resources for suicide prevention at the end of the movie. 

Positive Role Models

David pursues his dream of playing baseball, choosing to follow his dreams, even if it goes against the wishes of his strict and devout Syrian Jewish parents. Diversity in the players David plays with and against in baseball, even as his father admonishes him to "stick to your own kind." 

Violence

Two of the main characters commit suicide -- one by overdosing on pills and wine, the other by jumping off a cliff. While the movie provides resources for suicide prevention before the closing credits, these scenes and their aftermath may be difficult for viewers who have had similar experiences. 

Sex

Lead character takes Quaaludes and drinks wine with his sister and her girlfriend, resulting in a borderline incestuous threesome that stops when the lead character comes to his senses. Older teen boyfriend and girlfriend take off their clothes in bed, no nudity. Older sister calls lead character, and tells him how she and her new lover "f--k." Some sexual innuendo --- in a junior high hallway, boy stares at a girl across the hall, commenting on her "t-ts," and how he "would give my left arm to have her legs wrapped around mine," and laments, "if only she was easy." Baseball coach brags of having "the biggest bat in the whole five boroughs." 

Language

Frequent profanity, including "f--k" and "c--t." Also: "a--hole," "s--t," "bulls--t," "pr--k," "p---y," "pisses," "hell," "for Christ's sake." Middle finger gesture. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lead character takes Quaaludes and drinks wine with his sister and her girlfriend. Teenage lead character gets drunk in a bar with his baseball coach and his friends, and comes home to his parents stumbling as he walks and slurring his speech, then vomiting. Lead character smokes a joint with his girlfriend. The baseball coach smokes cigarette, and keeps a box of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his t-shirt. Wine drinking at a bar mitzvah. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Extra Innings is a 2019 coming-of-age drama based on a true story in which a boy in 1960s Brooklyn has dreams of playing baseball, against the wishes of his conservative Syrian Jewish parents. Those expecting a nostalgia-fueled baseball-centric movie will find that it's not really about baseball so much as it's about staying true to yourself and the ravages of mental illness on families and loved ones. Trigger warning for suicide, as two of the lead character's siblings commit suicide in the movie -- one found by the lead character as a tween boy dead in his bedroom with an emptied bottle of pills and a bottle of wine next to his head, and the other by jumping off of a cliff. Before the closing credits, the movie provides resources for suicide prevention. There's also a fair amount of adult content for a movie supposedly about baseball. In one of the more bizarre and shocking scenes, the lead character takes Quaaludes and drinks wine with his sister and her girlfriend, resulting in a borderline incestuous threesome that stops when the lead character comes to his senses. Regular profanity, including "f--k" and "c--t." In a junior high hallway, the lead character's best friend makes sexually-suggestive remarks about a girl standing across the hall. The lead character gets drunk in a bar with his baseball coach and friends, coming home to his parents with slurred speech, stagger steps, and vomiting in the bathroom. Marijuana smoking. Cigarette smoking.

 

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What's the story?

In EXTRA INNINGS, David is a young teen boy growing up in 1960s Brooklyn with big dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. His conservative and devout Syrian-Jewish parents want him to grow into a religious man and live a more grounded existence, and to stop playing baseball and "stick to your own kind." Meanwhile, David's older brother Morris suffers from mental illness, sitting in his room all day in catatonic silence, while still voraciously reading literature and wanting to be a novelist, and David's older sister Vivian is a free-spirited young woman eager for new experiences in California. Unlike David's parents, Morris and Vivian encourage David to pursue his dream. Things take a tragic turn when David, coming home from his bar mitzvah to change into his baseball uniform, finds Morris dead in his bedroom, emptied bottles of pills and wine next to his head. A few years later, after high school, David finds his first love, but is still tormented by Morris' death, even if it's something his family never discusses, and remains resolute in pursuing his dream. Things come to a head when the coach of a college in Los Angeles offers David the chance to play on his team, but his parents want him to stay in New York and attend a city college. Instead, he moves to California with Vivian, and when another tragedy befalls his family, David's father must find a way to accept David for who he is and to support his dream. 

Is it any good?

Viewers expecting this to be a slice of '60s Boomer nostalgia replete with Motown, paisley, and all the assorted "Great Society" signposts we expect in movies like these are in for a shock. That shock is doubled for those expecting this to be a baseball version of Rudy or Rocky. While, as the title implies, Extra Innings is centered on baseball and one teen's dreams of becoming a baseball player no matter what his conservative parents have to say, baseball isn't really what's important here. It's more a story of how a 1960s family dealt with mental illness, suicide, and the gap between giving up one's dreams for assured stability or following bliss and pursuing one's perceived purpose in life. 

Based on a true story, this is an earnest, low-budget indie drama, and the sincerity of those involved in the project is undeniable. Perhaps that's it's biggest problem. It's like the creators want to tell so many stories and communicate so much, it comes across more as a collection of instances or anecdotes rather than a coherent overarching story. And they're so busy trying to get to the next thing (coming home drunk, coming out to conservative parents, drug use, etc...), many of the conflicts created in these situations feel unresolved and unsatisfying. The movie tries to do too much, slowing it down to these uneven collections of stories. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coming-of-age movies. How does Extra Innings compare to other movies in which characters grow up and figure out who they want to be in life? 

  • How does the movie address mental illness and how it was treated in the 1960s compared to today?

  •  What message do you think the movie is trying to communicate about suicide and mental illness? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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Themes & Topics

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