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F. Murray Abraham,
Although a one-time MVP for the New York Yankees, Jack Elliott is now on the down side of his baseball career. His batting average is low and one of his few claims to fame is that during the previous year, he led the team in 9th inning doubles in the month of August. With an up and coming slugger ready to replace him, he learns that he's been traded to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central baseball league. Elliott is set in his ways and quite inflexible, not only in accepting Japanese culture in general, but also with the way the baseball team is managed. When he meets his very pretty PR agent, Hiroko, he begins to gain a greater appreciation that he should accept his current situation. When he realizes her other connection to the team, his attitudes begin to change at an even greater pace Written by
The rookie who pushes Tom Selleck's character off the Yankees roster was played by Frank Thomas, who went on to become one of the best MLB hitters in the 1990s. He won two MVP awards and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. See more »
During the Dragons season ending series, Jack is scouted, and Max is signed to finish the year with the LA Dodgers. Japan's baseball regular season ends a week or two after the Major League Baseball regular season ends. If Jack or Max had signed a contract with a Major League team at that time, they wouldn't be eligible to play until the next season. See more »
Heartwarming drama hiding within sports comedy "lite"
MR. BASEBALL is a film of paradoxes. Written and filmed as a "light, sports comedy" it truly has a heartwarming core as human and universal as some of Capra's finest. At the plot level, you have the paradox of baseball, a fine old American game, as it is played in Japan - turned around, with American values cast off and Japanese values imprinted upon the game. (Some of the superficial "sports comedy" results from Jack's uncomprehending disbelief at how "basa-boru" is played in Japan.) You also have a lead character who's presented as an over-the-hill, aging baseball star, but who is actually quite immature - pro ball allowed him to postpone growing up. And you have a lead character who is rudely resistant to the changes in his life that are being forced upon him, refusing to accept the curveball that life has given him, in the midst of a new country, a new manager, a new team, and a new girlfriend, who have all welcomed him and try to accept him. Sound like heavy stuff? Not really. It's a charming "clash of cultures" comedy that takes place on the national, sports, romantic, and professional levels. But if you watch it sensitively enough, you will also find a great story about a man who has to abandon his immaturity and grow up way too late in life (causing some amount of personal pain), and finds success in places he never expected it. I love the story, but I also have great respect for Selleck's performance; he bares his tush (literally) to portray an ugly American, insulting people and throwing tantrums in public, then lets us inside this character to understand his dismay. It also doesn't hurt if you're a big fan of Takakura Ken like I am. MR. BASEBALL is a surprising "loss of innocence" tale.
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