Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Oscar Movie Review: "Field of Dreams" (1989)

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Movie"Field of Dreams"
Year Nominated: 1990
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

A mediocre farmer in Iowa hears a disembodied voice that drives him to build a baseball diamond in his corn field. After doing so, he is prompted to head on a road trip to help a reclusive author and a one-time aspiring ball player-turned-doctor. 

"Field of Dreams" is written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson and is based on the novel "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella. It stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a Stanford graduate hippie-turned-Iowa farmer. Joining him is Amy Madigan, who plays his wife Annie, and Gaby Hoffman, who plays their young daughter Karin. One day while working in the field, Ray hears a voice that says, "if you build it, he will come." He believes this means that if he builds a baseball diamond in his corn field, the deceased 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson, played by Ray Liotta, will come to play. After Ray builds the field, 'Shoeless' Joe does indeed come to the field, along with the rest of the Chicago 'Black Sox.' His task doesn't end there as the voice continues to give him missions only he can hear involving a bunch of former baseball players only he and his family can see. One of these missions involves almost sort of but not entirely kidnapping reclusive writer Terence Mann, played by James Earl Jones, who is a fictional writer meant to represent J.D. Salinger.

"Field of Dreams" is a family fantasy drama about baseball, nostalgia, and amending the mistakes of the past. Right off the bat (no pun intended), you have to accept the magical fantasy element of this film, or you can forget about enjoying it. If you are looking for answers to the question of where the voice came from and/or why it contacted Ray and Ray alone, you won't find the answers in the film beyond that it's some kind of unexplained magical premise. Once you accept that premise, and we do since we love fantasy films, it goes a long way towards actually liking the film. Furthermore, it also extremely helps to be an established baseball fan as the entire movie uses baseball as the crux of its metaphor and its story. BigJ and I are not big into the sports, but we do know a little about the Chicago 'Black Sox.'

This is a charming movie with sweet kind of story, but doesn't necessarily scream "awards prestige." It is mostly about a man coping with the fact that he never reconciled with his father before he passed away. With such an emotionally hard-hitting subject, it's sure to make the strongest person weep at the thought of it. The acting is solid, but not entirely spectacular as none of the characters are heavily layered, and none of the performances are anything remarkable. There are a few funny moments and a few touching ones as well, but mostly a lot of baseball allegories and stories thrown into a plot about coping, remembering, and moving on. There are some instances in the movie that are downright eyeroll-inducing because of how corny it is. It borders on strange, but that's fantasy for ya.

"Field of Dreams" will definitely speak to a certain group of people, which may explain why it received three Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best adapted screenplay. For us, this movie is good, but it's not great. We finished the film somewhat perplexed as to why and how this received a best picture nomination, especially when none of the acting nor the directing was recognized.


My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
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Last Oscar season, we were watching: "All About Eve"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "The Graduate"

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