Sweet Imperfect Perfection; The Natural
If you know me at all, chances are that you know I (1) will always have insanity in my life that you will find wildly entertaining and (2) I love baseball. Insanity aside, this is about baseball. And specifically, the Robert Redford classic, The Natural.
This weekend, the Natural was on like 4 times…AMC, gotta love it. Me? I had to watch. Had to…I am not a Communista, comrade.
Now, look, there are very few things in this world that will make me cry. The first time I held my niece? I might have teared up a little. The ex and I broke up? Maybe a few hot tears of frustration…other than that? Nothing much comes to mind…
Except the god damn Natural. If this doesn’t move you…I mean…there isn’t…it’s like…
Screw that. Just watch.
Come ON. That’s just great stuff…I mean, I hear that song…duh DUH…I get chills. And Robert Redford? OK, I can admit it, I’ve got a guy crush. I mean, he’s Robert Redford. The Sundance Kid for Christ sakes.
But for all of the reverence I place on this film…for all the love…the joy I take in watching it…the respect….I gotta tell ya’…
There are some things that need to be said. And me? I’m gonna say ’em.
1) Iris doesn’t ever tell Roy he’s got a son and we’re OK with this…why? Or, What the Fuck is Wrong with Iris Part I
Iris and Roy hook up the night before he leaves for his try out with the Cubs. She seduces him and what happens? That’s right, she gets knocked up. Does she tell Roy? No. She does not. Not for 15 years (which we’ll get to later) If this happened today the movie would have been about the the conniving bitch that tried to cash in on her baseball playin’ next door neighbor.
2) Pop is not cursed, he’s an idiot.
OK, so the NY Knights manager, Pop Fisher (Played by Wifred Brimley pre-outmeal and life insurance schillin’ days) is a life long lovable loser who hates losin’ to the Pirates, should have been a farmer (according to his mom) and believes he’s cursed. Pop was a stakeholder in the Knights who ran in to some “financial trouble”…and what did he do? He sold his shares in the team to the evil owner with the caveat that if he wins the pennant this year, he can have them back…
Umm…WHAT? This guy’s never even come close to the pennant, he’s got a last place team with a star that doesn’t want to play (Bump Bailey, played by Michael Madsen) as much as he wants to be a star, and he’s betting it all on winning the Pennant? That’s cursed? Hell no that’s not cursed, that’s just dumb.
Oh, and he never, ever coaches this team. He and his assistant manager, Red Blow (Red Blow?!) sit in the dug out and play name that fucking tune while the team is taking BP. I mean, what does he do, exactly, as manager? Answer? Nothin’. And we’re supposed to feel bad for him. Remarkably, we do.
3) Roy Hobbs is a nymphomaniac.
Why why why is this never brought up? Roy gets ready to go to Chicago…KNOWING that he’s heading out of town for bigger and better things, what does he do? He does Iris, sans protection.
He’s ON THE WAY THERE…on the damn train, and what happens? He can’t resist the charms of the creepy ass dark and sultry Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) after striking out the Whammer…and she shoots him. Shoots him. I mean, he JUST got laid, and he’s can’t keep it in his pants for a day?
And then there’s Memo. (Kim Bassinger) Oh GOD do I hate Memo, and you’d think Roy Hobbs would, too. First, she moves from the recently deceased Bump Bailey to Roy in like, what? 46 seconds. Not only does Roy not mind stepping over the corpse of his former teammate, but he seems to relish it…the first time they have sex? It’s on the beach, under the boardwalk. Classy Roy. Reeeeal classy.
4) Iris is a Golddigger or What the Fuck is Wrong With Iris? PartII
So Roy Hobbs is mired in batting slump because he’s sleepin’ with Memo and enjoying his celebrity just a bit too much. This is the Rocky III part of the movie…you know, where Rocky goes all soft and needs Clubber Lang to kill Micky and whoop Rock’s ass to reignite the fire in him and restore his Ojo de Tigre. What does Roy need? More women, of course. But that’s not the point. After Roy snaps out his slump by catching a glimpse of the some hottie in the stands looking at him (which it turns out is Iris, but he didn’t know that at first…he was just like “wow, nice rack, now I’m ready to knock the crap out of this ball.”) he meets up with Iris and finds out that she is not and never has been married, but does have a kid. Roy asks if the boy is with his father and she coyly says “His father lives in New York…but I think he’s at an age now where he needs a father”…
OK, stop. Stop right there, damnit. How is it that he didn’t need a father before this? I mean, we’re supposed to just forget she’s a single, never married mother in the 1930’s and this kid never needed his dad? He never took an asswhoopin’ or 50 because of her status and came home cryin’ his bastard eyes out because all the other little boys have both sets of rents? Nope…he never needed a dad.
Well, not until his dad became a famous baseball player.
I ain’t sayin’ she’s a golddigger…
5) “What would be like the worst possible time to tell a man he’s got a 15 year old son?” or What the Fuck is Wrong with Iris Part III
Roy winds up in the hospital and is trying desperately to make it back to the team for the deciding game of the Pennant. He’s sick as hell, bleeding, and he’s gonna play…or at least he’s gonna try. It starts with this memorable exchange between Roy and Pop the loser manager;
Pop Fisher: You know my mama wanted me to be a farmer.
Roy Hobbs: My dad wanted me to be a baseball player.
Pop Fisher: Well you’re better than any player I ever had. And you’re the best God damn hitter I ever saw. Suit up.
But it doesn’t start out so good…Roy can’t run all that well, and he’s having a rough day at the plate whiffing on everything. His swing is ugly and he’s a damn mess…so what’s to be done? I mean, this man needs something to get him through, and steroids aren’t available just yet…he needs…he needs….
A note telling him that he’s got a 15 year old son? WTF?! That’s Iris’ great idea…NOW she’s going to tell him? Has she lost her mind!? She’s lucky he didn’t make a break for it and skip the rest of the game, because LORD KNOWS nothing makes a man settle down and focus like paternity, right?
I mean, really, what is she thinking?
Yet, I’ve never heard anyone say a damn thing about this.
Oh, and for the record…check out the last scene in the movie. Do you think it kills Roy that because Iris never told him he had a son and he missed the first 15 years the kid throws like a girl?
6) Roy Hobbs is a crappy teammate.
People get mad when I say this, but it’s totally true. Think about it; he gets up and walks out of meetings because he doesn’t see the point. Imean, after all, he’s been on the team for what? Maybe 3 weeks at that point? He’s got a right to be pissed he’s not playing? That’s not cool…that’s Terrell Owens! But he wants to be taken seriously and allowed to play…and to further prove it, he…dates Memo? What team would put up with that crap? You start walking out of meetings everyone else has to sit through and sleeping with the just deceased center fielder’s gf, and you’re not making any friends. But Roy? Roy’s beloved. Go figure. Must be the dimples.
And look, there are other things in this movie, too. I mean, Roy’s swing is not going to generate that power…it’s a contact hitter’s swing. There’s no power in that. But every time he hits the ball you’d think he was Bo Jackson.
He shatters the Wonderboy bat in his last AB, but then he hits the game winner with it. (Look close, you can see it)
It’s full of holes. Loaded with mistakes. (IMDB has a list of them) But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s one of those movies I watch no matter what. Even if it’s the story of a compulsive skirt chaser managed by a gambling addict who can’t coach. So what…when he shatter that lighting rig, I still get chills.
And maybe I get why he’s sleeping with Kim Bassinger a little more than I’m letting on…
Note: This weekend, the Yankees brought up a kid named Shelley Duncan, who promptly hit 3 home runs in his first two games. When he hit his third yesterday (his second for the day) the PA played…you guessed it; the theme from the Natural.
Note 2: Friday it’s HH. Don’t forget, kids.