"For Love of the Game" is the story of Detroit Tigers Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner), a shoe in hall of famer in the twilight hours of his career. While pitching the game of his life in front of a packed house at Yankee Stadium, Chapel begins to reflect on what it all means - baseball, his career, his life and love. Faced with the daunting prospect of being traded after twenty years as the heart and soul of his team and losing the woman that he loves (Kelly Preston), Chapel is forced to take inventory of his life. During the course of a single baseball game he must decide once and for all what is most important to him and if it is time to hang it up and move on with his life.
As we all know, Kevin Costner has made his share of baseball movies. Many would argue that some of his best work has been done in these films. Again, he turns in a fine performance as the aging baseball star faced with his own mortality and the many mistakes he has made throughout his life. The beautiful Kelly Preston is wonderful and adds depth in what could be easily dismissed as being "the love interest" role. The rest of the cast, comprised of great character actors such as Brian Cox and John C. Reilly, provide an added depth to the proceedings.
Director Sam Raimi has been one of the most interesting directors in recent years, resulting in such movies as the amazing, ground breaking "Evil Dead" series, the quirky western "The Quick and the Dead" and last year's "A Simple Plan". A seemingly an odd choice for a romantic comedy, Raimi lends his unique style and visual prowess to give the film a dreamlike feel and look that adds to the dreamlike, reflective nature of the story.
"For the Love of the Game" works best when the action takes place on the baseball diamond. The scenes between Costner and Preston, while adding depth and purpose to the story, are quite often overly sentimental. However, the chemistry between the two leads helps them along and Raimi's direction helps elevate what would be a very average, rather predictable film to a somewhat higher level. Part baseball fairytale, part melodramatic romance, "For the Love of the Game" has a little something for everyone.
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