A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this story about following your dreams and reconciling relationships could appeal to young teens, older teens, and adults, especially families who like baseball. Some positive messages about tolerance and believing in yourself go along with a bit of strong language ("s--t" and "son of a bitch"). There are a couple references to past drug use, as well as a couple tense scenes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In FIELD OF DREAMS, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) stands in the middle of his first Iowa corn crop and hears a voice say, "If you build it, he will come." He begins to understand that this means he must plow under the corn crop and build a baseball field so that Shoeless Joe Jackson, barred from baseball since 1919 and dead for years, can play on it. Ray and his wife (Amy Madigan) know this is a crazy thing to do, but they do it. And Jackson does show up, with his teammates. Jackson was the hero of Ray's father, a former minor leaguer, with whom Ray had never been able to connect. The voice speaks again: "Ease his pain." Ray comes to understand that this refers to an iconoclastic author of the 1960s named Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones), now a recluse. Ray finds him, and together they hear the voice say "Go the distance." This leads them back in time to find an elderly doctor (Burt Lancaster), who had a brief career in baseball but never got a chance at bat and they set out to find Mann.
Is it any good?
The themes of this pleasantly satisfying movie are dreams, family, and baseball. There are echoes of Ray's father throughout the movie. It begins with Ray's description of growing up, using his refusal to play baseball as his teenage rebellion, and as a way to test his father's love. Ray tells Mann that his father's name was used for a character in one of Mann's books. Ray builds the field to bring back Shoeless Joe, his father's hero, the hero Ray accused of being corrupt because he knew that would hurt his father.
And of course at the end, it turns out that the dream all along was not bringing back the greats of baseball, but of a reconciliation with his father that was not possible before he died. "I only saw him when he was worn down by life," Ray says. His own understanding and maturity are what enable him to see his father as he really was, even before he reappears on the baseball field. Ray asks his father, "Is there a heaven?" and his father answers, "Oh yeah. It's the place dreams come true."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dreams. How do you know when to follow a dream that seems crazy or foolish? What thoughts go into weighing the risks of certain choices? Is there a way to know for sure whether an idea is a good one?
How did Ray's experience with the baseball field help him heal his pain related to his relationship with his father? What could you do to mend some family wounds?
What kinds of stereotypes are discussed or displayed in this movie?
- In theaters: April 21, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: April 29, 1998
- Cast: Gaby Hoffman, James Earl Jones, Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta
- Director: Phil Alden Robinson
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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