6 May 2001 | mar9
Glossy biopic with a standout lead
John Goodman steamrolls his way through this film, with just about everyone else pushed into the background.
Purists no doubt will cane this film for historical inaccuracies. Heck, I'm from another country and know jack about baseball, but 15 minutes on the Internet was enough to show me that the film took serious short-cuts with Babe's life and career, not to mention a number of errors and distortions of fact.
Does this matter? Well, yes, probably. But you have to feel for the filmmakers. How do you condense a 20-year sporting career, not to mention a study of a complex and flawed individual, into a couple of hours of cinema? It's not easy, and the film suffers from events that are merely touched on Example 1: Ruth is introduced to mobsters in a speakeasy, but this seems to lead nowhere. The obvious question is: what happened next?. Example 2: The conflict between Ruth and Lou Gehrig is not portrayed accurately, and its resolution is not shown at all.
An excess of sentiment also hurts the film. There are moments that look like cliched scenes from countless other sporting movies - especially the sick kiddie in hospital extracting a promise of 2 home runs from Ruth, who dutifully delivers, and the same kiddie, now fully recovered and grown up, showing up at Ruth's swansong. It's emotionally manipulative film-making and I regret to say it works, but it also pulls this film back from greatness.
All up, just above average, unlike its subject matter.