Interesting and profound
Jonathan Spear | San Francisco, CA USA | 06/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with the excerpted review comments from the New York Times, "Intelligent, insightful, touching," which are printed on the cover of the VHS box. Filmmaker Jeremy Spear respects the viewer enough to include many complexities of his subject matter. For example, the gross and tacky elements in the character of Peter Porcelli, the financier of the sport's highest paid team, are obvious. Yet beyond Porcelli's inflated self opinion, Spear also shows that the man has admirable qualities: that he cares for his family, yearns for camaraderie with his players, and is devoted to revitalizing and promoting the game. Several other characters also are shown to be multifaceted, which is refreshing to see.Beyond the subject matter of sport, some interesting themes surface in the film, such as changing demographics within the United States. The economic decline of Midwestern farming communities mirrors the decline in popularity of the game in places such as Ashland, Ohio, from where much of the documentary footage is taken. As legendary Eddie Feigner recalls, just one generation ago, every small town in the US had a fastpitch softball team. Now, most Americans have never even seen a game of men's amateur fastpitch. This fact can be linked to the general decline of local community, as American people grow up watching professional baseball on national television, rather than experiencing a comparable game live in the fields of their own hometowns. Also, the sudden emergence of the Smokers (a team assembled and financed by a junk mail tycoon from the city of Tampa Bay) is no surprise, for American life has become increasingly dominated by corporate businesses.Most of the heartwarming aspects of this film originate from the ways in which people from disparate backgrounds can play with and compete against each other, with understanding and respect. Through the vehicle of fastpitch softball, characters from different nations and ethnicities come together. Such universally human themes in this movie make it worthwhile, even to viewers who have little interest in sports."
This is a really cool movie!
Brian Billstein | Columbus, Ohio | 01/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I truly liked the story told by the filmmaker. Unlike a lot of sappy Hollywood sports movies or network TV programs, this movie goes into the depth of real human characters, who must face both victory and defeat, integrity and compromise.The sport itself is quite interesting, and I would not have known about it except for this film."
A great slice of life
Cary J. Zeitlin | Oakland, CA | 08/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jeremy Spear's journey into the world of fastpitch softball at the relatively old age of 35 would probably have been interesting enough on its own, but in documenting his first season, he also gives us a great deal more. The movie paints a compassionate portrait of small-town life in the U.S., and Jeremy's travels lead him to cross paths with teams comprised of New Zealanders, Native Americans, Canadians, and a somewhat obnoxious (but not all bad) junk-mail king from Tampa Bay. He also discovers his own familial connection to the Midwest.
Everyone in the film shares a passion for the impressively difficult game of fast-pitch softball - and if you've ever wondered, it really is harder to hit in this game than in baseball. Fastpitch by all accounts is a dying sport. The film captures Jeremy's 1996 season, and one is left wondering what's happened since. Nonetheless, it's a wonderful, warm film that everyone will enjoy, whether or not they're a sports fan."