Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Natural (1984)

The Natural (1984) ★ 1/5

Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is a 19 year old baseball player who wows everyone around him with his skills. Max Mercy (Robert Duvall) immediately sees that this boy is going to be a star. Because he is so good, he is put up against the major leagues greatest player in a hitting contest and wins. Before he can go any further in the league, he is seduced and shot by a woman (Barbara Hershey) who preys on rising athletes. She falls out the window and dies as the gun goes off. Because of the injury Hobbs sustains, he can not play.

16 years later he tries to make a comeback in the league. With him is the bat he made from a tree that killed his Father. Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) takes him on his team to his disliking. To the suprise of Pop, Hobbs is still at the top of his game. Reporters try to exploit his past and suggest that he murdered the woman who hat shot him. Others try to claim his bat is loaded. A Judge (Robert Prosky) wants him to throw a game for money. A woman, Memo (Kim Basinger), is sent in to distract Hobbs from playing well, and the plan works as he falls in love with her and his game suffers. During the height of his slump, he sees a woman in the stands who turns out to be his childhood sweetheart Iris (Glenn Close). Feelings are ignited and Hobbs starts to play well until Memo poisons him. Lying in the hospital, the doctor tells him he shouldn't play anymore. Iris visits and he confesses his love for baseball.

Eventually Hobbs is well enough to play. During the game, Iris has a note sent to him and reveals that her son is actually his son as well. Lo and behold, Hobbs has a boy, and unexpectedly it is with the woman he loves, almost as much as baseball. When Hobbs learns of his son's existence, all the powers of the universe seem to come together. Lightning flashes and the bat that symbolizes his Father breaks. With a new bat, new energy and a new son, he hits the ball into the lights. Oddly, from hitting one light, every light in the park explodes on him and he rounds the bases followed by the sparks, falling like magical fairy dust.

In the end, we see Father and son playing catch in a field with iris watching from the distance.

What a ridiculous movie. First of all, Redford looks the exact same at age 19 and age 35. There was no effort to make him look any different from one period of time to the other. The whole story was so far fetched. A woman who gets her kicks shooting up and coming athletes? Seriously? I couldn't get into the whole plot about Memo wanting to seduce then poison him. Constant murder attempts on one athlete throughout his career . . . which by the way was essentially a sappy "I love baseball more then life" or "I can't live without baseball or I'll die" story line. Through the whole movie my attitude was very "who cares?" This film has an incredible cast, but with such a weak, random storyline, they have nothing spectacular to show off their skills.

The Natural is nothing more then an over dramatic, far fetched fairy tale written to make a boring topic like baseball seem like a romanticized, mysterious underworld/soap opera. The only good thing about seeing this movie is that I never have to watch it again. By the time the end came I didn't even care if he won or lost, I just wanted it to be over. There were several moments where I hoped it would just come to one of those random endings where the film just stops and it's left up to the imagination of the viewer as to what happens. But when Hobbs blew out the lights and rounded the bases in slow motion, I knew that the scene would last far too long. They just had to put it in slow motion, didn't they?

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