Friday, August 19, 2016

Spaceman: Movie Review

A baseball biopic filled with comedy and heart.

When you start a film with “Most of this actually happened”, you better follow that up with a lot of off-the-wall, too-crazy-to-be-true stuff. Spaceman is the story of MLB pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee whose career was apparently filled with on and off-field antics, but the movie follows his life after he loses his Montreal Expos contract, and although that does make the movie a bit more pedestrian, it still has a lot of humorous moments and a lot of heart.   2016

Directed by: Brett Rapkin

Screenplay by: Brett Rapkin

Starring: Josh Duhamel

Josh Duhamel executive produced this darling, funny indie and stars as The Spaceman. Bill calls himself Spaceman, loves baseball, and really loves weed. His early antics all involve getting high, sprinkling weed on pancakes, getting drunk and then pitching, or attempting to pitch. An early scene features Bill going from a bar chugging down beer to the ballpark while the game is half-over and was then outraged when the manager refused to play him when he’s completely drunk. Bill will have to get his career back on track even though he has no intention of changing his ways.

It’s a good performance from Duhamel; he completely embraces the drug-fuelled attitude of Bill, makes it very funny, delivers many great lines, but also shows that he’s a real human. This is not a caricature, but a real man who loves his kids, loves playing baseball, and loves weed. There were funny one-liners throughout the movie and whether these were really said by Bill Lee or just made up by screenwriter Brett Rapkin, doesn’t matter since Duhamel does such a good job of it.

There’s usually a great scene to help transition to the next stage of his life and the next stage of the film. Especially the reveal that he doesn’t have an agent and his big plan is to just sit by the phone because he’s sure it will ring. And that’s later followed up with “Somehow things went from bad to worse.” As if he couldn’t understand how partying all night might not be the best choice. The film is at its best when he’s talking himself off a team or trying to pitch his way on to a team. And in the end it might have been a good choice to skip his big league years and follow him immediately thereafter – it has a lot more heart this way.

This is about a man who called himself Spaceman, and referred to himself as a Roman Catholic Rastafarian Zen Buddhist. This is a man of high intellect, filled with passion, and many bad ideas. He single-handedly ruined his big league career regardless of his skill level, and he probably wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. He’s the spaceman. He played ball, he smoked weed, drank liquor, and lived life.

Similar Titles:

Undrafted (2016) - One baseball game, some comedy, some loud personalities, and one epic inning.