A baseball legend almost finished with his distinguished career at the age of thirty-seven has one last chance to prove who he is, what he is capable of, and win the heart of the woman he has loved for the past four years.
Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is having a bad day. His girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston, stunning as ever) says she's leaving, and his boss (Brian Cox) says he's selling the business and ace employee Billy may be out of job. Sounds like business as usual for an old-fashioned veteran. However, the business is baseball and for Billy Chapel, the 40-year old former all-star for the Detroit Tigers, it means his career--and his life--is at a crossroads.
Although it is no Bull Durham, For Love of the Game finds a solid and very believable role for Costner. The film is based on Michael Shaara's (The Killer Angels) stream-of-consciousness novel (the rough manuscript was found after his death 1988). The entire film takes place on Billy's day on the mound against the Yankees, a meaningless late-season game for the Tigers, but everything for Billy. In flashbacks, he lingers over his long relationship with Jane and his baseball career (from World Series heroism to a career-threatening injury). His one viable link to the game at hand is his catcher, played winningly by John C. Reilly. Costner, like Chapel, is looking for one more great performance, but the film is too simplistic and loopy at times to resonate. The love story has an extra helping of cuteness, and legendary baseball announcer Vin Scully nearly takes on a leading role, waxing grandiloquent. It's no grand slam, but a solid double. --Doug Thomas