March 16, 2006

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Game 6 (PG-13)
reviewed by Amy Diaz

It’s 1986 and Michael Keaton wants to believe in his Red Sox, who are playing the Mets in the World Series, even though he knows heartbreak is around the corner in Game 6.

And we know it too because live within a five-hour drive of Boston and you’ll hear at least twice, with operatic fanfare, the heartbreaking tale of Bill Buckner and how the game-deciding ball goes rolling through his legs. We also know that all this 80+ years of angst was finally given a grand end in 2004 when the Sox did finally win the World Series and Boston seceded its losingest status to Chicago. So, you know, agony of defeat, thrill of victory, been there, done that, bumper sticker? Already starting to fade.

But hey, can’t fault a movie for not getting greenlit quickly enough. Nicky Rogan (Keaton) is a playwright about to premiere his most daring work ever. But all he can think about is game six of the 1986 World Series, which plays the same night. Though living in New York — constant emphasis of cabs and the assorted ethnicities of their drivers makes sure that location is driven straight into our heads like a spike into wood — Nicky is a Bostonian from way back and the game is paramount to his thinking.

Whether he’s getting a quickie from his mistress (Bebe Neuwirth), arguing with his daughter (Ari Graynor), discussing divorce with his wife (Catherine O’Hara) or commiserating with a fellow writer (Griffin Dunne), his mind is really on the game. Well, the game and the potential of being reviewed by the notoriously harsh critic Steven Schwimmer (Robert Downey Jr.), a weird recluse who has the power to make or break a play.

Sadly, there is a past-its-freshness feel about this movie; the fan documentary Still We Believe perfectly captured the masochism of rooting for the Red Sox at practically the last moment such a thing could be done with an oomph that could be felt by fans and nonfans alike — spring 2004. Two years later, this film feels like a story heard one too many times. Add that to the self-importance of every scene (some of the dialogue feels like Mamet parody; some of it feels like something a prisoner would produce after 48 hours of being force-fed a Ken Burns documentary) and you have something that can be truly mushy and unappetizing. C


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