What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie features racketeering, sex, (unwitting) parental abandonment, and a singular violent scene. With no nudity or extreme language, and only glimpses of blood, the director relies on suggestions and allusions to the King Arthur legend that will probably go over tweens' heads.
What's the story?
THE NATURAL stars Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, a rising baseball star sidetracked by tragedy, who mysteriously reappears decades later as a rookie in the major leagues. His smashing at-bats quickly dispels skepticism about his age, but when he succumbs to temptations his luck runs cold. He does not want to help himself out of the funk: his mysterious \"lost years\" are off-limits for discussion to his girlfriend, his managers (Wilford Brimley and sweet-eyed Richard Farnsworth), and press hound Robert Duvall.
Is it any good?
Off the field, the dialogue is often inexplicable and women, in general, are trouble. Barbara Hershey and Kim Basinger play femme fatales, and Glenn Close is Hobbs' reticent lady in white. Each are given complexity to flesh out character, but some scenes fall head-scratchingly flat: the true trouble stemming from the strain of forcing legend into a modern script.
Still, The Natural has iconic moments (Glenn Close in the stadium under a sunlit halo of a hat, and the cascading shards of popping stadium lights), and is off-kilter enough to temper much of the sentimentality. Baseball fans will appreciate that this movie is at its most intelligent and loosest in the ballpark, where happily, Redford and Levinson are also most comfortable. The lead's unwavering integrity is the movie's heart: The Natural does not glamorize vice but triumphs over it with a wholesome finale.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about morals in face of pressure (refusal to be on the "take," rejecting a temptress for a childhood sweetheart). The "scandals" of the movie may seem tame today, and can be explained that they were problematic for a public sports hero at the time. A discerning viewer may be more troubled by the anachronistic head of hair on Robert Redford -- the only landscape in the film that defies the aesthetic conventions of the 1930's.