For Love of the Game
Baseball may no longer be America's favorite pastime, but it still seems plenty dear to Kevin Costner. For Love of the Game makes the third baseball-themed feature in which the actor has starred, following the smash hits Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. Costner plays Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel, a man flirting with a triad of crisises: mid-life, career, and love. On the same day that Billy is scheduled to pitch in the World Series, he is abandoned by his long-time girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston) and also discovers that the new owner of his beloved Tigers plans to trade him away after the season is over. Standing on the mound, preparing to pitch for the Tigers for what may be the final time, Billy begins to play a mental game of baseball while his team plays the real thing around him. Billy uses this technique to deconstruct his life, trying to come to terms with the choices and decisions he's made over the years. The story, artfully directed by Evil Dead wunderkid Sam Raimi, is told almost entirely with flashbacks, revealing the events that led Billy to this point. Costner and Preston are both excellent, and the introspective thought-monologues help elevate a rather conventional story into something far more interesting, just as Terrence Malick did in The Thin Red Line. The special features include a whopping eleven (!) deleted scenes, a "making-of" featurette, a baseball trivia game, a theatrical trailer, and a textual supplement on the history of the sport. Very nice anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer. Keep-case.