Sometimes the unlikeliest of people become heroes. Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford – Indecent Proposal, Out of Africa) is a man who in his past made a bad mistake and now he is given an opportunity to redeem himself. At least on the baseball diamond.
Roy Hobbs was on his way to becoming a star baseball pitcher, but he is shot by a female fan at age 19. His career seems to be over. Sixteen years pass and Hobbs is 35 and still playing baseball. He has been playing in the semi-pro leagues and is called up by the woeful New York Knights. Approaching his middle age years, Hobbs is now the oldest rookie in the big leagues. Hobbs rides the bench hoping that manager Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley – The Firm, Cocoon) one day plays him. After much hesitation, Fisher does play Hobbs and discovers that he might be the savior for the Knights and himself.
Things seem to be coming together for Hobbs in that he is finally realizing his dream to play in the Major League and he reconnects with old girlfriend, Iris (Glenn Close – 101 Dalmations, Dangerous Liaisons). A big monkey wrench is thrown into his life when the owners of the Knights, using the beautiful party girl Memo Paris (Kim Basinger – L.A. Confidential, Cellular) to sweeten the pot, try to convince Hobbs to throw the final game. His old wound is also causing him some problems. Hobbs has some choices to make and none of them will be easy.
Sometimes a film just has to be accepted as mythical for it to work and this is a great example of that. Baseball is the American sport and it has been fodder for a number of films which incorporate a mythical tone when dealing with it. Something about it seems to drive men to look at it with awe and translating this awe onto the screen. Maybe it is because of all the sports baseball is the easiest in transforming its words or descriptions into images. Whatever it is this sport translates onto the screen like no other.
Director Barry Levinson (Bugsy, Rain Man) and actor Robert Redford do a marvelous job making this fantasy seem like reality. To add to the fantasy aspect of the film, Levinson has really used the cinematography to lend to the feeling of the film being one marvelous dream. Everything is soft and muted. Most of the sets and clothing are browns or golds. With his character, Robert Redford has made a hero who is like one of us regulars. He is or could be the guy next door. We feel for the character’s passion, drive and never-say-quit attitude. As for the story/script all the characters are interesting and none are one dimensional. There are no twists or surprises in the story as it is told in a very straightforward manner. It has a great old fashioned feeling to it which warms the heart. It ends up being a story that is about more than sport but about the constant battle of good against bad, right versus wrong and faith versus disbelief. It is probably best described as the type of film that generations of fathers and sons will watch together.
- Barry Levinson Intro to the Director’s Cut
- Theatrical Trailer
- When Lightning Strikes: Creating The Natural: Pre-Game: A Novelist Steps Up to the Plate, The Line-Up: Assembling the Moviemaking Team, Lets Play Ball: Filming the Show
- Clubhouse Conversations
- A Natural Gunned Down: The Stalking of Eddie Waitkus
- Knights in Shining Armor: The Mythology of The Natural
- The Heart of The Natural
- Extra Innings