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MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Edward James Olmos, Lorraine Bracco, Jeff Corbett
Written by: David Himmelstein and Tom Donnelly and Larry Ferguson
Directed by: Robert M. Young
Retail Price: $19.99
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (12 Scenes)
Released: March 4th, 2003
Virgil Sweet (Edward James Olmos) is a talent scout for the California Angels. Virgil loves his job and he certainly loves baseball. He knows his stuff and is always on the lookout for fresh talent. However, Virgil, as encouraging and as sweet as his last name implies, faces a crisis of concicious (and needs his own brand of encouragment) when the Angels' new owner decides to ax the scouting program... meaning Virgil's out with it. But when Virgil meets an incredible player by the name of Sammy Bodeen (Jeff Corbett), things start to change. As Sammy soon becomes more of a property than player, Virgil begins to question who he is and what he's done.
"Talent For The Game" is a decent, pretty fun little flick that I could probably watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon in syndication. The film seems to be aimed at being a crowd pleaser, and it does a very good job of that. The film is pretty much one of those stories about passion for what we love and having hope when times may seem grim. There is a good balance of baseball and the politics of baseball included into the mix, yet when I was watching the movie, I couldn't help but feel I had seen all the film's elements before and they were done better.
To be fair though, the film is pretty entertaining and moves at a quick pace. The pacing I found to be perfect, since director Robert M. Young doesn't over do it and gives the audience just enough with the plot and the characters. He does also have some nice shots and creates an interesting character study of sorts of Virgil. The love subplot is also decent enough as Bobbie gives Virgil something to fall back on when he needs his spirits boosted. The script doesn't really have many inspired moments, but there are some nice breezes of dialogue and some nice little portions to the movie. Still, you'll also think you've seen it somewhere else before and that this offering is a bit mediocre.
The performances do help lift this movie up beyond what it probably should have been. Edward James Olmos gives a sly, strong, believable and incredibly charimsmatic as well as passionate performance as Virgil. He's a man who's determined and has a vast knowledge of baseball, yet keeps a pretty level head in times of trouble. It's a very smooth performance that Olmos perfectly handles as he gets a true core and handle on the character as far as his beliefs and values go. Lorraine Bracco, currently Olmos' ex-wife, still had a relationship during the time when this film was made so she shares some pretty splendid chemistry with him. Bracco is quite energetic in the film. David Newman also delivers a very solid and fitting score. In all, "Talent For The Game" brings nothing new to the sports movie genre and isn't even that memorable. Still, if you want a little baseball action and character drama, you could do worse.
Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Talent For The Game" sports a pretty nice transfer but is flawed in a few key areas. There are some blemishes here and there, but in some scenes a whole swarm of them will just pop up for a good few moments making it very distracting and very annoying. The film is also a little bit grainy, but thankfully there is no edge enhancment to be found. The image itself is rather sharp, but there is some noise and shimmering here and there. Color saturation looks quite nice, fleshtones are very impressive and detail is often stunning. The movie has a lot of excellent exterior shots (Virgil driving on the country roads, baseball stadiums) that are captured nicely here. This is a good example of taking the bad with the good, though I wish Paramount cleaned the movie up a little bit.
"Talent For The Game" has been remixed in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and the result is pretty impressive. There's a nice balance between the music, surround effects and dialogue so nothing overlaps with one another. There are some great effects when it comes to Virgil visiting the Angels office, Virgil in the mine shaft and all the baseball playing. Dialogue is crisp and clear, while David Newman's score sounds really lovely and well mixed through the channels. There is also some ample (though not impressive) subwoofer use to boot. In all, a very well-rounded mix that represents what the movie has to offer. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track, a French stereo track, English closed captions and English subtitles.
"Talent For The Game" is a decent baseball movie at best, but it has some good acting and nice moments. The DVD has no supplements to speak of, but the film's transfer and new 5.1 mix are very good and better than I expected. If you're curious to see this movie it's worth a rental, but given the cheap list price and how can you snag this one for around 15 dollars, fans of the movie will probably want to own it.