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For Love of the Game
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What's the story?
On the same day, aging baseball player Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) finds out his girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston) is leaving him and his team is being sold and he'll probably be traded. He is pitching a game that same day in Yankee Stadium, and the story unfolds in flashbacks as the game, which could turn out to be the elusive perfect game, goes on. Every movie romance cliché is on proud display. Billy and Jane "meet cute" when her car breaks down. They suffer through ups and downs and downs and ups. The flashbacks also cover Billy's career, including a serious injury and the inevitable slowing down of age.
Is it any good?
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME falls toward the sentimental side of the scale. It's an old-fashioned romance with no real surprises, but the material is handled well, and it's just about impossible not to get caught up in the story. Costner is great at this kind of role -- somber and stalwart, but with a streak of dark humor. Preston becomes more appealing as the film goes on, and by the end you're rooting for the team and the couple to pull it together.
In less competent hands this could be a slushy mess, but Sam Raimi brings a seriousness and maturity to the film that work well, and his shots are beautifully composed and edited. Most likely, he loves baseball, too. This is fine family viewing, though young children may find the relationship boring. The baseball, however, is beautiful, and any fan watching will remember why they fell in love with the sport.
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