"I can't help but wonder if this film wasn't made more from an excuse to cash in on the popularity of John Goodman at the time of this film than an honest desire to portray the baseball icon. It would certainly explain the film's inaccuracies and rushed feel. I remember that around that time (late 80's, early 90s), Goodman seemed to be fairly popular. Can it be coincidence that somebody wanted to make a film about Babe Ruth at around the same time Goodman started receiving recognition in Hollywood? Honestly, I don't think so. At any rate, Goodman is miscast as Ruth. For one thing, Ruth wasn't really fat; more like broad and stocky. He was quite athletic and able to play the field - remember, there was no such thing as a designated hitter back then. In other words, offense isn't the only part of baseball; Ruth played defense too. Does this film ever show Ruth in the outfield? Can't say for sure because I didn't really watch the entire thing, but it's hard to imagine paunchy John Goodman fielding fly balls. The other thing is Goodman is simply unlikeable as Ruth. As we can see from film footage (including Pride of the Yankees), the real Ruth was energetic and charismatic. Goodman's Ruth is simply loud, crass and grating."
Good baseball movie, but not what it should have been
Wyluli | Florida USA | 03/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Probably the most famous baseball player of all-time, Babe Ruth should definitely have had a movie done about him, and "The Babe" is a decent effort, but is not without flaws. First, there are many inaccuracies in this movie, but I won't go into that too deep. At the end of the movie (1936), The Babe is spitting up blood during the game between the Braves and the Pirates, but Ruth did not pass away from cancer until 1948. Certainly Ruth did not have cancer in 1936.. There's many other things, but I don't need to list them all.
But the thing that really bothered me about this movie is that Ruth is portrayed as nothing more than a bumbling idiot while he was with the Red Sox. While this is good for a few laughs, it really took away from my enjoyment of the first half of the movie. I'm thinking "THIS guy is Babe Ruth??" However, as soon as Ruth is sold to the Yankees, he becomes much more intelligent and doesn't act like a complete dumba$$ all of the time. At this point, the movie takes a much more serious turn, and in my opinion, the last half of the movie is EXCELLENT. The film delves into the Babe's issues both on and off the field, and definitely has some touching moments, and a strong finish to the movie. Too bad the first half of the movie was so silly.. So overall, 1 star for the first half of the movie, 5 stars for the second half, for a final score of 3 stars.
I thought that John Goodman was very good as The Babe, although yes, he was much larger (weight) than Babe Ruth really was at any point in his life, but let's not get hung up on details. Goodman was a good fit for the part, and Kelly McGillis was excellent in the supporting role of Claire Hudson.
All of that said, if you're a true baseball historian, you will find plenty to complain about with "The Babe", but if you just want a fun baseball movie to watch, then I would definitely recommend it. I would hope that someday a movie is made about Babe Ruth that is more historically accurate, and has a much more grand feel like the movie 61*, because this telling of Babe Ruth's life just isn't quite the home run that it should have been."
It showed The Babe how he really was
Jeff Smith | Hot Springs Village, Arkansas United States | 01/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, Babe Ruth was a baseball legend.
Yes, Babe Ruth was like an overgrown kid in a candy store, trying to gobble up as much of the good life as possible before it overtook him.
That is how it is portrayed in "The Babe," showing the ups and downs in the life of the Bambino.
John Goodman was excellent in this role. He played all aspects with gusto and showed what a talented actor he really is. Look at these facets.
1. He leaves St. Mary's, shy, scared and not knowing what was waiting for him.
2. His childish antics as he discovers things around him, such as the elevator in the hotel, chewing gum, good food, beautiful women and plenty of booze.
3. His absolute love for the game, although he took no measures to keep himself in shape to play.
4. His rollercoaster of emotions as his career and his personal life took ups and downs, from signing the biggest deal in baseball and creating "The House that Ruth Built," to physical confrontations with the fans who jeered him.
5. His devotion to children, especially those who were orphaned such as he was. He took them for rides in his car, he brought shoes to them in the orphanage.
6. The painful realization that his career was over as he walked off the field for the last time with his head down, to the standing ovation of the home crowd.
This is a vast expanse of characterizations, and Goodman covered them all. True, he did have to lose weight to play the Babe. He dropped down to 275 pounds. That's only 15 pounds more than Babe usually weighed when he reported to spring training after an offseason of indulging in food, booze and women. He would play his way down to 240 pounds by the end of the season, but he was still 20 pounds overweight. Just think how many home runs he would have hit if he had the work ethic of a Lou Gehrig, a Nolan Ryan, a Mike Schmidt or a Roger Clemens.
Sure, Goodman had a washerwoman swing at times during the movie. But, keep in mind that he is "right" handed and is performing with his left. I am very right handed, and when I try to throw with my left hand, I look deformed.
To those who glorify Babe Ruth, this movie may be a shocker, but it told the truth. He loved the game, and he loved to live the wild life. Ultimately, it shortened his career by a few years.
Goodman is great as the Bambino! Not only can he do comedy (he is totally hilarious in Rozanne), but he can do good dramatical roles if given the right piece, such as in this movie. Heck, with the nose job and his round face, he could pass for the Bambino's son!"
Truth Stretching, and All-Out Fabrication
Hans Pfaall | Connecticut, USA | 08/09/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie as a kid when it came out and liked it, but since then it has gone through something of a critical reevaluation. Goodman is an entertaining actor, but there are just too many factual errors, and they arguably detract too much from the film's quality.
As was noted elsewhere by other reviewers, Goodman's Ruth does not represent a great athlete. Ruth was not overweight growing up, nor in his early days as a ballplayer. Ruth's weight did fluctuate, but few to this day know that Ruth had 123 career stolen bases, and actually led the Yankees in steals one year (1923). Goodman's character was unreasonably slow, and at the end was portrayed as unable to run the bases even on a home run. This might work as light humor, but it certainly is not fact. Also of note, Goodman was a natural born right-hander that had to learn how to bat and throw left-handed like Ruth for the purpose of acting in this film. This makes Goodman look awkward, and even less like an athlete on a few occasions.
On the other hand, I understand as a general rule that playwrights and filmmakers are given a certain "artistic license," and that it is alright on some occasions to stretch the truth for a purpose. The bloated portrayal of Ruth might be one such example, no matter how erroneous it is from a factual standpoint. Even so, many of the inaccuracies have no discernable purpose. Case in point, "Jumpin' Joe" Dugan was never a teammate of Ruth's in Boston, only in New York. It is also known that Ruth did not have any home runs in 1914, but according to this movie he had one that year. In addition, Ruth was not the first player to hit a home run at Forbes Field. The list could go on for a while, and there seems to be no reason why the filmmakers decided to alter such facts. "Jumpin' Joe" may have been put in there just to have a veteran teammate friend for Ruth, but Dugan started his career three years after Ruth did, so he could not have been a veteran to Ruth at any point in his career. They could have picked someone else to fill this fictitious "veteran teammate" role, or scrapped the idea all together. The 1914 home run served the purpose of providing a dramatic rookie year home run, but this scene could have been set in 1915 instead, and with some modifications perhaps could have been just as dramatic. Lastly, regarding Forbes Field, the announcer could have said a true statement along the lines of "Forbes Field is a pitchers ballpark, not many home runs are hit here folks," as opposed to the inaccurate "no one has ever hit a ball out of Forbes Field." The latter line had a dramatic effect, but was not necessary.
Also of note, Ruth's supposed "meeting" with gangster Alphonse Capone seemed a bit absurd, perhaps this was thrown in to get a glimpse of the times. Aside from the dicey misrepresentations though, there were a few strong qualities. The acting was strong overall, with Ruth's two wives giving strong performances, and Goodman's performance was not a total wash, even if there was too much over-the-top buffoonery. And let it be said that this film does have the ability to evoke some of the excitement of the game of baseball - a sentiment especially felt as an eight or nine year old viewer. But as said by Derek Armstrong, there were "too few ambitions toward a greatness to match that of its subject matter." "
Good movie, didn't glamorize Ruth!
debbie-n-va | 11/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think this was a good solid movie. Babe Ruth was a legend, no doubt, but all that glitters is not gold, and his life was no exception. I think that by watching this movie you can see why the Sultan of Swat was the way he was, as far as his temper, his low self-esteem at first, his overgrown sense of his own self-worth toward the end of his career. I thought John Goodman played a fine Ruth and while he did appear excessively heavy and slow for the part, Ruth was not a slim, overally muscled athlete in the 1910's. Perhaps, the "dirty" scenes another reviewer commented upon were the scenes dealing with Ruth's flatulence! Overall, it was a good movie, my kids were able to watch it and enjoyed it and I think Goodman did a great role as The Great Bambino. This movie tells it straight, doesn't over glorify him just because he was who he was; afterall, he like the rest of us, was human."