41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Kevin Costner gives a very compelling performance as a baseball player at the end of his career. He is very realistic in the role and brings thought provoking issues to light. How do you decide to hang up your glove and leave a game that has been the most important thing in your life? It was great that he could personally do the pitching in this movie because it would have lost a lot of the realism and credibility if they had to use someone else.
48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2000
This is an excellent baseball movie and a decent romantic entry as well. Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is a veteran pitcher with an accomplished career who is headed for the Hall of Fame. On the day we meet him he has a lot on his mind. He is informed that his team is being sold, he is being traded and the love of his life is moving to England. Add to this the pain in his pitching arm, his impending decision on whether to retire and the fact that winning this game is critical in determining if the Yankees go to the playoffs, and you have a man with overloaded neurons.
The story unfolds as an introspective retrospective. As he is pitching this important game, he is thinking about his childhood, his relationship with Jane (Kelly Preston) and how he is going to get the next batter out. He is so preoccupied that it doesn't even dawn on him until the eighth inning that there have been no Yankee hits and he has been pitching a perfect game.
The flashback elements are expertly woven into the game, giving us a genuine feeling for his distraction. This is a fresh perspective for a sports movie. Instead of simply focusing on what the player is doing, the film focuses on what he is thinking while he is doing it. It gives us an authentic look at how athletes get "in the zone", filtering out all the noise and concentrating totally on their performance. Those who have been involved in athletic competition can identify with this state, although only the best can achieve it at will.
Sam Raimi's direction on this film was excellent. His direction of the love story was nothing special, but he did a superb job on the baseball scenes. The combination of on the field action, commentary by Vin Scully and simulated TV telecast footage was so well done that it was impossible to differentiate it from a major league game in progress.
The acting ranged from fair to excellent. Kelly Preston was very good as Jane. She brought a full range of emotional expression to the part, though she sometimes got a little shrill, like the scene in the hospital where she screams out "Is this America? Is baseball still the national pastime." Overall though, she played the part of the torn lover very well.
Kevin Costner is no great lead actor and it is hard to understand why he is so popular. Perhaps it is his whiny lost boy charm that makes women want to mother him. In the love story, he again presented as listless and uninspired. But in the baseball scenes, he came alive. In fact, in these scenes Costner was not acting so much as acting out. He loves baseball and was obsessed with doing all his own baseball scenes. He is a top notch athlete, so he really could throw a curveball and his fastball had plenty of pop. His ability to portray a professional athlete in this instance was superlative, probably due to his having played the game scholastically. So overall, I would have to rate his performance here as very good.
John Reilly gets a very honorable mention as Chapel's catcher. He was quietly supportive and unobtrusive, the way catchers usually are. He portrayed intense desire in a demure and low key way without overacting. It was a nice performance by an actor in a supporting role playing a baseball player in a supporting role.
I love baseball and this was a great baseball movie so I rated it 8/10. Anyone who enjoys sports will probably enjoy this film.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2002
Following the shining examples of earlier characters in "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams", Kevin Costner has once again taken on the role of a baseball player and played it to perfection. In this film, Costner stars as Detroit Tigers ace pitcher Billy Chapel, a 19-year veteran of the major leagues. Chapel's hall of fame career is winding down, and his team is playing out the string of another long season. To make matters worse, Jane, Billy's girlfriend, played superbly by Kelly Preston, has informed him that she has accepted a job offer in London. The final bit of bad news comes from the Tigers' owner, who informs Billy that he's sold the team and Billy will probably be traded next season. All of these things are weighing on Billy's mind as he steps on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
However, right from the beginning of the game, Billy realizes that this day is going to be special. He has his best stuff working, and he's blowing through the Yankees like they were little leaguers. Gus, the catcher played wonderfully by J.C. Reilly, offers continuous encouragement to Billy throughout the game. One of the best moments of the film is the way Billy blocks out the noise of the crowd in his mind, and all that the viewer hears is the wooosh of the ball as it is pitched. I got chills when this occurred. It was extermely realistic.
During the course of the game, Billy has "flashbacks" to his relationship with Jane. We get to see how they met and the evolution of their romance. Although he hides it well, it is clear that Billy truly loves Jane, but he's afraid to admit to her that he really needs her in his life. I thought the flashbacks were excellent. In some films, the flashbacks tend to take away from the movie, but not in this one. I think they were one of the better aspects of the movie.
By the time the game reaches the 7th inning, Billy asks Gus if any Yankee has reached base. Gus says no. Only then does Billy realize that he's in the midst of a pitcher's dream; the perfect game. Summoning incredible courage and strength, Billy manages to complete the ultimate baseball feat.
Watching this movie was a real treat for me. I enjoyed Costner's earlier performance in "Field of Dreams", but he tops it with this amazing performance. I recommend this excellent movie to all baseball fans, and fans of good movies in general. Its one you'll remember for a long time.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2004
I am not a baseball fan but i can tell you this movie is really good it is really deep full of emotion. I don't know anything about the game basball i live in England but yet i was able to really enjoy it bcoz it doesn't really focus on the game but on the personal life of a successful baseball player. Brilliant buy it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2000
One of the best sports and romance films I have ever seen. "For love of the game," takes you on a unique perspective of the athlete, specifically in this case the pitcher's thoughts through a game. Through each flash back in the game the romance story starts to build as Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) begins to think back on his five-year relationship with Jane (Kelly Preston).
Sam Raimi has done an excellent job directing this film. His timing was perfect in flipping back and fourth from the past to the present. His direction in both on and off the baseball field proved to be flawless. This is definitely one of his best films as a director to date.
Kevin Costner puts in one of his best performances ever, but then again Costner and sports seem to go along. Where Costner's wonderful performance mostly showed on the baseball diamond, Kelly Preston acting job as Jane was by far the films best performance. She brought a great deal of emotion to the movie and really gave the romance part of the story everything that it needed.
Overall I would recommend this movie to anyone, it hold a great deal of appeal for both men and women.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2003
this was a great movie about a mlb pitcher, in possibly his last game, looking back on the last 5 years of his life with his gf, jane. i thought kevin costner was great.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2000
Baseball movies were made to star Kevin Costner. When it comes to casting an actor to play a baseball player, Kevin Costner is just a "natural." Okay, that was Robert Redford, but it just worked with that last sentence.
In this film, Costner plays major-league pitcher Billy Chapel, who was once the best in the game, but is now in the very final stages of his career. He is pitching for the Detroit Tigers against the first place New York Yankees. In the process of thinking about his career and life, he embarks on a wild ride of pitching a perfect game.
Costner constantly has flashbacks to important moments in his life. Through them, we get to see him develop as a major league pitcher, and we watch him mature as a person. The flashbacks are really well done, and they are mixed into the film, well, perfectly.
The acting was really good as well. The lead role was made for Costner, and he did an excellent job, especially the baseball scenes. Kelly Preston was decent as his scorned lover who still has feelings for Chapel. The nicest surprise of the move was John Reilly, the catcher. He played Costner's best friend and offered him the support that catchers always give. He acted exceptionally well.
The movie had a really nice flow to it. The camera work was superb, and the background love story was nicely maintained. The baseball scenes were shot very nicely, and the addition of legendary announcer Vin Scully was a really nice touch. It made the game seem real. This is a good movie, and a real pleasure to watch.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2008
Costner has made about 5 or 6 good movies, and three of them are about baseball. Bull Durham is the comedy, Field of Dreams is the spiritual, but For Love of the Game is the more realistic of the bunch.
Billy Chapel (Costner) is an aging veteran pitcher for a bad Detroit team in the twilight of his career who must decide on retirement, or accepting a trade. The movie takes place over the course of just 1 game, with back flashes of his relationship with Jane (Kelly Preston).
The movie touches on the celebrity of athletes, and the difficulties of having a normal relationship. I personally thought that the underlying theme was about choosing between a career or a relationship, but I'm sure it was probably deeper than that.
I have always thought that Costner was a bit of a ham who takes himself way too seriously, and while at times in this movie he tends to fall into that role, Billy Chapel is more of an understated character, and Costner is by far at his best when he plays that kind of role.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2003
My son, a former college pitcher, absolutely adored this film--not because of the overall story, but because of the head games pitchers play on the mound. And to its credit, FOR LOVE OF THE GAME vividly depicts a day out on the hill for a major league pitcher at the twilight of his career, Detroit Tiger ace Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner). My son instantly identified with Chapel's talking to himself between pitches, trying to get inside the head of the batter (What's he expecting? Fastball or breaking ball?), hoping that his next pitch will throw the batter off balance. And finally, Chapel's ability to completely shut out all noise and distractions ("Clear the mechanism," he says to himself.) was very effective.
And those are the highlights of the movie. Unfortunately, FOR LOVE OF THE GAME is a compilation of flashbacks centering around a contrived love story that has been rehashed and recycled thousands of times. Director Sam Raimi gives us a story about the on-again/off-again relationship between Chapel and Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston), a magazine exec. Chapel is unwilling to make a commitment, while Jane's pessimistic insecurity about the relationship becomes downright annoying. Costner is so wooden in these scenes he appears to be going through the motions, while Preston whines and pines like a high school sophomore. The final scene between the two of them, in the airport, is uncomfortable to watch.
John C. Reilly turns in an admirable performance as grisly veteran catcher Gus Sinski, and the soothing voice of Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully lends wonderful credibility to the drama as Chapel makes a bid to pitch a perfect game. I only wish FOR LOVE OF THE GAME had confined itself to the action on the mound; there wasn't much action going on anywhere else.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2000
I loved this movie so much that I went to the theater twice to see it. First of all Kevin Costner was so good! He is definelty worth seeing this movie for. Second, being a huge baseball fan the movie was even greater. Third, I got an even greater treat with the romance between Costner and Preston. I must say this was a movie my husband I both could enjoy. Sports and romance! I can't wait till this movie comes out on video so I can watch it once again.