Thursday, July 18, 2013

70. A League of Their Own (1992)

[Quick Personal Note]

Before starting into this entry, I wanted to take a moment to greive the loss of Cory Monteith who, as a huge fan of the show, I knew as Finn Hudson from "Glee." 

Cory was 31, but I felt the gravity of his loss the most among other recent "gone too soon" celebrities (Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston)... mainly because "Glee" is like my favorite soap opera. You actively follow the characters and all they go through, delight in their triumphs and support them even in the darkest of times. 

It goes without saying he will be sorely missed by Gleeks everywhere. back to business

Code-name: Marla

"How about Marla? What a hitter."

Director: Penny Marshall
Type: Baseball, Dramedy


Golden Globe- Best Original Song- "This Used to be My Playground"- Madonna
Golden Globe- Best Lead Actress (Comedy/Musical)- Geena Davis
Grammy- Best Song for Motion Picture/TV- "Now & Forever"- Carole King

Jimmy Dugan- Tom Hanks
Dottie Hinson- Geena Davis
Kit- Lori Petty
Talent Scout Ernie Capadino- Jon Lovitz
Mae- Madonna
Doris- Rosie O'Donnell
Marla- Megan Cavanagh
Betty Spaghetti- Tracy Reiner
Evelyn- Bitty Schram
Shirley Baker- Ann Cusack
Walter Harvey- Garry Marshall
Bob Hinson- Bill Pullman

as always, be wary of spoilers

geesh... that's a lot of names to remember :-P

this is one of many movies growing up my mom nagged me about watching. as in 
"You have to see [fill in the blank]. You'll love it."

Truth be told, 9 times out of 10, she's right. She's got great taste in movies.
(regarding the 1% of the time where our opinions differ... one of them was "The Family Man" with Nicholas Cage and the other was "The Wedding Date" with Debra Messing... I'd be open for checking into both at a later date, if only to see if I wasn't old enough to appreciate them or I just plain don't get them).

Regarding the nominated songs, as much as I love Madonna's music, I really didn't like her stuff in that period in the 90's... much like "Take a Bow," it's way too melancholy for my tastes. 
But having songs like "Frozen" and "Beautiful Stranger" in that decade really helps take the edge off so I don't miss her 80's stuff quite as much.

In preparation for this entry, I rewatched the movie a couple weeks ago. 
I found myself stunned that I never saw the first 10 minutes.

It's not a foreign concept by any means. Details that make movies from my past memorable to me usually happen after the first 10 minutes anyway and tend to taper off by the halfway point. 
It depends on the picture obviously, but this was one of those movies where all my favorite quotes cropped up in the first hour or so.

I don't remember much about my first time seeing it other than being disappointed with the ending. Particularly, how the final baseball game turned out.

At its core, the movie is a tale of two sisters and their relationship over this period of time. In the vast scope of things, it's about the women's baseball league that formed in WWII when most of the ball players were serving in the war.
The majority of it takes place in the past during 1943.

What I didn't catch until this recent viewing was that Dottie didn't want to attend this reunion of the AAGPBL (all-american girls professional baseball league), but her kids and grandkids talked her into it. Supposedly she'd been in mourning for a period of times since her husband passed away.

I always came in at the scene where Jon Lovitz pays the girls a visit to recruit Dottie for the league. She has zero interest, but her younger sister Kit does. He decides to take her on as long as Dottie comes too. And there you have it.

...I'm not quite sure what in my DNA compels me dislike Jon Lovitz... maybe it's because he usually plays immoral or unpleasant characters... maybe I just need to find "The Critic" on YouTube to refresh my memory of something I enjoyed him in... man, that was a long time ago...

Aside from that, all of the actresses shine in their designated roles. 
Of the two sisters, Kit is my favorite. There's just something that scrappy attitude and that desire to prove herself that compels me to follow her through all the trials and tribulations... wanting nothing more than for her to succeed. 
Lori Petty, I'd only seen in one other role... and I didn't find out until years later that she was the trainer in "Free Willy." (another bit of childhood nostalgia there). Just love her.

Sometimes with the sisters, it seems like there's a lot of anti-chemistry going on. Only during this past time had I really picked up the depth of their rivalry.
Madonna and Rosie, on the other hand, had a great chemistry as tough-gal besties Mae and Doris. Great characters. Not surprisingly, considering who played her, Mae was into some risqué business before joining the league. Most priceless is the scene where the girls go into confession and the priest dropped his Bible numerous times because she told him "everything." 
And who else would use dirty books to teach Shirley Baker how to read? :-P 

Other notable cast choices were Tracy Reiner (aka daughter of the director) and Garry Marshall (aka brother of the director).
Although I have no confirmation of this, I wondered if Walter Harvey was a spoof on Hershey because Harvey chocolate bars were the main sponser of the league.

And my mom and I know Bitty Scrham (aka the receipent of the stand-out quote "There's no crying in baseball) as Sharona, assistant to Adrian Monk on the USA series "Monk."

Can I just say how mind-blowing it was to see Tom Hanks in this role this past time?
Who would have thought that a couple years after doing this role, he'd win TWO Oscars and officially join the A-list. Just WOW... 
Jimmy Dugan is, by NO means, a nice guy. At least not for the first half of the movie :-P 
he's a drunk, he's a tobacco chewer/spitter, he cusses, he yells and his attitude stinks to high heaven... he's a former ball player whose career ended after he shredded his knee and, as far as he's concerned, he got stuck with coaching a bunch of girls.

It goes without saying that his lines are some of the funniest in the entire movie.
My personal favorite: "I haven't got ball players. I got girls." 
Just how he says "girls" has me in stitches.

Marla is one of my favorite characters simply because the humor used referring to her.
...starting AFTER we get passed Jon Lovitz almost turning her down because she's not the prettiest girl... physically, she could almost pass for a female version of Igor (ala "Young Frankenstein"), but the girl can HIT and when her personality comes out, look out :-P 
again, Mae's doing... she snagged her future husband singing at a bar after Mae and some of the girls gave her a dress and "a lot of liquor"...

two classic moments: at the top, I quoted part of the newsreel they shot of the Rockford Peaches and the other girls' teams. But with Marla, the camera was panned WAY back and we see her wave.
then at the finishing school, the woman in charge giving advice on how to beautify the girls shuddered at the sight of her and said she needs "a lot of night games"
... a little cruel, yes, but I get a kick out of it every time.

Probably the only fault this movie has is that it runs a little too long and drags. 

The friction between Dottie and Kit is hard to get through sometimes. It especially sucks when Dottie voices her thoughts on quitting the team and the manager resolve the situation by trading Kit instead, all because they don't want to lose their best player... real jerk move.
But after reviewing the movie a few times, I don't mind the ending quite as much as I used to. Kit deserved that moment of victory.

I also feel kinda bad about the scene where Betty gets the telegram about her husband's death. As if it's like "God forbid it happens to Dottie because she's one of the primary characters"... my new opinion on the scene kinda originates from another movie where a similar thing happened... 
"What to Expect when you're Expecting"... by no means is it a great piece of film-making, but I couldn't help but feel that Anna Kendrick got stuck with the one-night-stand/miscarriage storyline because she's the least famous actress in this all-star cast. I'm sure there were other reasons, but I have my suspicions. 

Despite the misgivings here and there, the heart of the picture keeps it from straying too far off course. 
One scene I always dread going into is where Shirley Baker is going through the roster lists after try-outs and we're led to believe she got cut... because you feel so bad for her... then one of the other girls gives her a hand, intutition leading her to conclude she might not be able to read, and the huge weight is lifted off her shoulders as well as those of everyone watching when they find out she's a Peach along with the rest of the main cast.
Hey, it's the 40's... and it was definitely a good point to make about that period in time... cannot say enough how well they handed the emotional integrity of that scene.

The movie ends with the women YEARS later reuniting for the opening of their wing in the baseball hall-of-fame. We find out what happens to some of the other characters. Everyone made it except for Jimmy Dugan and Evelyn who passed away. But in her place is that chubby, bratty kid she took with her on road games.

To which I gotta ask: what kind of stupid name is Stilwell, anyway? Heck, I don't know how you can even call that a name. Seriously... 

And Dottie and Kit see each other for the first time in a long time.
Kit is there with her entire family, which has me asking why Dottie's family couldn't come along too :-P

I guess you could say that Harvey was the best sponser for the league... because amidst all the things going on, this movie is a good one because you're always coming back for more of that warm and gooey center that appeals to us on a emotional evel as well as tickles our funnybone.

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