Friday, January 12, 2018
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992)
Directed By: Penny Marhshall
Written By: Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
Story By: Kim Wilson & Kelly Candaele
Cinematography By: Miroslav Ondricek
Editor: Adam Bernardi & George Bowers
Music By: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, Bitty Schram, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, Jon Lovitz, Ann Cusack, Anne Ramsay, Megan Cavanagh, Bill Pullman, Janet Jones, Tea Leoni,
Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.
The film isn’t overly romantic. It has touches of it and a romantic tension that never quite resolves itself or really comes to a head.
The film is brimming with nostalgia it’s is kind of historical overview of the league during a season with some side stories and subplots thrown in even though most of the characters are one. It’s with some kind of depth other than the main stars who are given three dimensional characters to play more.
As with this film and her last RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS that seems to be a strength of director penny Marshall other than making big budget more family friendly films out of material that could go either way Think RENASSIANCE MAN. In fact her dirtiest film content wise is probably JUMPING JACK FLASH. A film that earns an r ret by but seems more PG-13 ish as there is nothing too offensive except for a sexual themed set piece more done as defense and language. Even as it is a 1980’s comedic spy thriller.
This might be my favorite Tom Hanks performance yet. As he is grumpy but has his charms as an angry sad sack who eventually comes alive again and not that bad of a coach as a washed up former baseball player who is an alcoholic and see’s his job as coach not only Beneath him but more as being a mascot.
The film is meant to be an ensemble but you can tell who the main cast is. It also benefits to a degree from Stunt casting especially Madonna as a sexpot player. Though it is also a film where each character even the comedic relief are needed. As they each are a piece of the puzzle to the story to expose a different relationship with the time as far as issues. Some even get dramatic stories though only in glimpses. Just as some have happy endings. Which is what helps the film be successful as it is all inclusive for the audience.
The leads have more of a 1930’s/40’s type of relationship. It’s never romantic but there is chemistry and they always seem to be bickering to hide their attraction. So it plays off as love/hate and go at each other wittily but caring at the same time. Where as if she wasn’t married you would be rooted no for them to get married.
Watching this film today it feels like a classic and is a good film. Though again no wonder if I am watching it more through nostalgia not only for the time period it portrays but when films seemed simple and more direct to the audience. Where you knew what you were getting into and it was a nice surprise if it hit all that was required and still had good quality. Also for the decade in which it was made that seemed more simple. As I wonder if I reviewed it the first time I saw it would it still have the same grad air would I have been more judgemental. In other words is it viewed less harshly compared to what would become and more because of it’s Reputation over the years.
There are plenty of memorable and poignant scenes but the film never forgets it’s heart and to leave you with something to laugh about or with and still takes you on the requisite emotional journey. As it tries to take a fun look at the past.
The film was even fun plowed some years later by a television spin-off, with none of the stars returning but some supporting cast members as part of the cast.
One of the components of the film that is raised and explored a little. Is how this changed so many of their lives by having to play by the rules, but leaving them empowered that it was hard for some of them to just go back to their old lives. How it left some of them on to success in other fields or gave them the strength to travel and find their own way in the world. Though it definitely lead to a change. Even in some cases of how the public saw women and inspired others to do things not expected or planned for them.
The stunt casting of Madonna helps the film. As she plays the role of the sexpot on the team.Though most of her scenes are played for laughs opposite Rosie O’Donnell. She is an element that works in the overall formula.
This is a film that unabashedly wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve. As such it’s technically sound. Not a marvel of style because there is so much of a sure hand that you don’t notice. As it all drives the material and there is no need to show off or Razzle dazzle when not needed. Nor is it necessary, as the film seeks to stay simple and be simple.
This is one of the few films where Geena Davis truly lets her talents and star power shine. She is an actress who is strong and is good in just the right amount of doses. She looks the part even though she was really a last minute replacement for the many who were considered or signed but dropped out at the last minute like Demi Moore, Laura Dern, Lori Singer and Debra Winger
The film has charm for days, that makes to feel safe and comfortable and while watching it you are able to bond with the characters.