Late to not crying! A review of A League of Their Own

Late to not crying! A review of A League of Their Own

Rockford Peaches: Batter up, hear that call. The time has come for one and all… to play ball. We’re the members of the All American League. We come from cities near and far. We’ve got Canadians, Irish ones, & Swedes. We’re all for one, we’re one for all, we’re all American. Each girl stands, her head so proudly high. Her motto “Do or Die”. She’s not the one to use or need an alibi. Our chaperones are not too soft; they’re not too tough. Our managers are on the ball. We’ve got a President who really knows his stuff. We’re all for one, we’re one for all, we’re all American.

Once upon a time I had a boss who insisted that I looked like Geena Davis.

That’s really it for any relevant stories about a League of Their Own. I just never watched it. My mom was never interested in sports movies and I swear she hates half of this cast. My dad enjoys sports movies with plot points that he can relate to personally (Field of Dreams and Ray playing baseball with his dad, ooof). For those of you who are thinking, “HOW did you miss this movie, it is always on television,” look: unless it’s a movie that I already love (Ghostbusters II) or am actively curious about (Casino), I don’t like watching movies on television.

Kevin and I had plans to see A League of Their Own at a movie in the park night in Austin, but I decided to skip because I don’t want to spend a minute outside in this heat. I’m a baby. Unfortunately we were reduced to watching this movie on television, and that really affected my enjoyment of the movie. It seemed like the entire picture didn’t fit into the screen so in scenes where it seemed like all of the action was happening in the picture, the camera would show half of the scene and then awkwardly sweep over to the other half. It looked terrible. With the censored swear words and the commercials that broke up dramatic scenes, viewing the movie was a mediocre experience. I liked the movie well enough but I would have had a stronger connection watching the actual movie straight through.

This movie started out with another strike against it: being promoted as a film “from the team that brought you BIG” was not exactly a plus for me. I went in expecting another movie that I just wouldn’t get, so I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it.

The acting was exceptional, and as only my third (or so) experience seeing Tom Hanks in a comedy I’m starting to believe that I like him even more in comedies than I do dramas. I expected this movie to be sappy knowing the little I know about Penny Marshall and it REALLY was, particularly the ending. I believe that this movie could have done without the mushy beginning and end scenes, but that’s just me and I’m a grouch.

This movie missed the mark with me a little considering my lack of emotional connection. I feel feelings; I take pride in my extreme emotional reactions to everything. The only time I felt any sort of emotion was when Betty found out about her husband’s death and even then I wasn’t extremely sad. I also have a little sister and assumed that I’d relate to the competitive nature between sisters [NOTE: I ADORE MY SISTER] but I couldn’t identify at all. I’m not a robot so I really blame the distractions from watching the movie on TV.

This movie is about a really interesting part of baseball history but it’s filmed in a way that anyone, even those who don’t like sports, can enjoy it. I wish I liked it or connected with it more and I plan to give it a second chance, as long as I watch it on DVD next time. The moral of this story: movies on TV are ONLY for movies you have seen before. Or Showgirls (can you say ‘special effect bras?). So it is written, so it shall be done.

Madonna as Mae Mordabito

Face palm moment: So the only Madonna movie I’ve seen was Evita, which I actually loved (granted, I am an annoying musical theatre alum). With her top billing on the posters I expected her to have a much bigger role. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t have that much screen time because I love pre-British accent Madonna. Also, girl, you look fabulous in your brown hair. Dye it back.

Favorite part: The onfield action was really fun to watch. Oh dear, can you imagine doing anything like that in skirts? I remember playing softball and learning to slide, and even with my sliding pads and shorts I thought I was going to die. I can barely handle wearing a skirt in an office. Dang.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Penny Marshall, she’s the woman from those late 90s KMart commercials, right?

(JK, JK, I’ve seen a Laverne and Shirley episode. Get off my back.)

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 9 out of 10 because it’s one of the movies that freaks everyone out when I admit I haven’t seen it. I really think I need to give it a second shot to say whether or not I really enjoyed it.

[Editor’s Note: Kevin says that when I watch these movies and don’t like them, it’s because I miss the connection. In my opinion, classic/good films are those that you can watch and enjoy at any point. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.]

13 comments

  • I think that making the connection is the responsibility of the director and the cast. I mean, you have to expend a certain amount of effort too, but blaming you for missing the connection is sort of like saying you not enjoying your dinner is your fault when, as long as you go in with an open mind and a willingness to try new stuff, any failures that come from the kitchen are the responsibility of the chef. I like steak; I don’t like a badly prepared steak. I like movies; I don’t like movies that aren’t well made.

    I like this movie and everything, but Penny Marshall has made plenty of stuff I don’t care to watch again. Is that my fault?

    And you are displaying so much youth when you admit that watching Tom Hanks in a comedy is a novel experience.

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  • I think it is really interesting seeing you encounter Comedy Hanks *after* Oscar Hanks unlike us older balls people that grew up with the funny stuff first. I really wish he would find a comedy project to do because he is just so great and natural at it (Sort of related: I really hope you have seen That Thing You Do!). He’s the best part of A League Of Their Own to me and a big reason it holds up to repeat viewing. The schmaltz does nothing for me either (except the Betty scene, I’m not completely a robot), and I always found Kit to be super annoying, but as a baseball movie, I’d rather watch it than Bull Durham or maybe even Field of Dreams.

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  • I think there is definitely a generational factor in good movies that often facilitates one’s connection to them. A lot of people don’t understand why Citizen Kane was a classic, for example.

    That said, I can understand why you didn’t connect with the film. It tends to lack personality and is uneven in places.

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  • Yea I agree with you Mark and Ryan on both. However, A League of their Own is just another good baseball movie that hell, I don’t even hardly connect to anymore. I think the generational part is a factor, because my Mom loves it and can sort of relate and we watched it together. Yea, I don’t get the Citizen Kane backlash these days or movies like Raging Bull. It is like, as time passes, subsequent generations are liking them less and less.

    I seriously can’t believe we can call ourselves old balls when we saw Tom Hanks in numerous comedies before Philadelphia and after. Were the ’80s really that long ago now? I mean how can Laura possibly watch this before seeing Joe vs the Volcano, the Money Pit or Splash et al?

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  • I think you’re right to not care too much about this movie; it’s pretty mediocre. I mean, I always like Geena Davis (big crush), and it’s a chapter of American sports history that deserves to be told, but it also relies on a lot of sports clichces… and Marshall has a heavy-handed approach to directing that oozes schmaltz, and thus someone who prides themselves in feeling genuine emotions during movies can’t connect here… it’s just too formulaic (“Washed-up Drunk Coach”? Check! “Bad News Bears” ensemble? Check! Everything culminating in the “big game”? Check!…). I did think Rosie O’Donnell’s performance was pretty good in the movie, though. And Geena is good as the “tough cookie”…Madonna looks better as a brunette, I agree, but she just isn’t a particularly good actor. I never fully believed she even knew how to throw a baseball. Oh, and the older versions of the women were creepy. Make-up artistry just wasn’t that good in the 90s.

    Anyway, personally, I don’t think there are many good baseball movies (“Field of Dreams” is overrated, I think–long and boring… sure, it’s sad when he plays catch with his dad, but that’s toward the end of a rambling 2-hour film)… “The Natural” is really the only one I care about and even that has a corny ending… You were wise to avoid sports movies in general–they tend to be very predictable and they rarely do the sport justice.

    And you’re right, it’s pointless to watch movies on TV channels that have commercials (unless you absolutely love that jingle about going to “The General” and saving some time…”).

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    • You are so right about it being formulaic. I thought Rosie played herself, so she was good at it but it didn’t seem like a wonderful performance per se. I usually always think that about her though.

      Reply

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