The Natural Movie Review

Robert Redford is beloved for his roles in numerous films, but his work in The Natural has to rank as one of the few on top, despite the fact that, with a $48 million box office, it hardly ranks as one of his bigger hits.

The film remains, next to Field of Dreams, one of the world's oddest baseball movies. Roy Hobbs (Redford) is a child wunderkind at the game. After playing some ball at a carnival, he's summarily shot in the chest by a femme fatale (Barbara Hershey), who is clearly working for agents that want him not to be the greatest player of all time, which Hobbs says he aims to be.

Flash forward to a decade or so later, and Hobbs is seen, er, hobbling onto the baseball diamond as a New York Knight. He's a grandpa by normal standards, but eventually they relent and give him a chance, and soon Hobbs is smashing impossible homers with his homemade bat, which Hobbs carved himself from a lightning-struck tree. Will Hobbs overcome pain and adversity to lead the loser Knights to the championship? In a movie this filled with melodrama, you better believe it, and that's just the beginning of the emotional rollercoaster that The Natural has on tap for us.

Jammed full with cliches, The Natural never misses a chance to manipulate the audience, whether giving Hobbs a suddenly life-threatening illness or introducing a son that he never knew he had. A parade of scary women run through the film: Both Kim Basinger and Glenn Close (who inexplicably earned an Oscar nomination) are borderline ghoulish here, with Close (as his childhood sweetheart) almost invariably bathed in ghostly light while offering minimal dialogue.

And yet, despite its many flaws, The Natural is quite watchable. How it became a cult classic remains a mystery, but it's something that goes down easy, even it the aftertaste is bitter. Chalk it up to Redford, who gives Hobbs a real heart and soul that we almost care about. As for the story, eh, an Aesop's fable would have had the same effect.

Director Barry Levinson (no stranger to schlock) serves up an extended director's cut which doesn't seem to change much aside from adding more footage: The infamous cheesy ending remains the same, for example. An entire second disc of featurettes rounds out the selection.

Comments

The Natural Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG, 1984

Advertisement

More Robert Redford

Robert Redford & Cate Blanchett In Talks With 'Rathergate' Producers To Play Don Rather & Mary Mapes

It's only been ten years since Don Rather reported on a CBS news programme about the Killian documents, which supposedly showed how former President George...

'Captain America: The Winter Solider' Breaks April Box Office Record With $96.2 Million Weekend

Marvel Studios' latest instalment, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier', is proving to be hugely popular, not just among comic book fans, but all cinemagoers as...

How The 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Helicarriers Were Created: Awesome Visual Effect Scenes Shared [Video]

Prepare to step behind the scenes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and delve in to the film's astounding visual effects, thanks to company Industrial...

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Movie Review

This is the Marvel movie that divides the fans from the casual filmgoers, as the movies become more like a TV series in which the...

Advertisement

Captain America: The Winter Solider Trailer

Steve Rogers has awoken after a deep sleep lasting 70 years following his fight with Nazi adversary the Red Skull during World War II. Things...

Robert Redford Is Focused on Sundance, Not His Oscar Snub

Robert Redford is at the very top of the list of snubs at this year's Oscars. The actor and director's film All Is Lost was...

Inside Llewyn Davis, Anybody? The 5 Biggest Oscar Nomination Snubs

Ok, so the Oscar nominations pretty much played out as we expected on Thursday morning (January 16, 2013) with a minimal amount of surprise nominations...

Early 'Sundance' Favourites Already Generating A Buzz For Upcoming Movies

The Sundance Film Festival is the place to be for young, aspiring filmmakers hoping to crack into the hotly-contested business of the movies. By the...

Advertisement