|The Babe (1992)
Starring: John Goodman, Kelly McGillis
Director: Arthur Hiller
With Babe Ruth etched in the national folklore the way he is, it's almost impossible to separate fact from fiction. In "The Babe," most of his romanticized legends are given full throat, but his seedier side is on display as well. This isn't the sugar-coated treatment we've all come to expect. No apologies are made here. Babe Ruth could be a crude, egotistical, loudmouth that was fined and suspended often. Though he was, undeniably, a great athlete, he wasn't much of a team player. He was also a drunken philanderer constantly trying to buy love, in more ways than one. All that aside, he was also generous to a fault, loved children, and single-handedly saved our national pastime. The baseball aspect is a little hokey, but all in all, this film seems to have captured the essence of the mythological ballplayer.
John Goodman is the quintessential Babe Ruth. Besides being the right size, he has all the Babe's mannerisms and foibles down cold. He was even beginning to look like him by the end. Kelly McGillis makes a great flapper, and is more than adequate as Ruth's second wife. The main drawback with this film was the way the time-line was handled in relation to the story. The plot would skip from one major event to the next, without seeming to finish the original thought. It feels jagged, as if we're watching the Cliff's Notes version of a more developed movie. Also, the baseball scenes tend to be a bit clownish; the seriousness of the game is never allowed to show through.
"The Babe" is an entertaining and plausible depiction of one of America's greatest legends. It suffers from trying to paint too big of a picture, but then again, Ruth was bigger than life. This movie may not make you long for the season to begin, but it may make it easier to forgive some of the spoiled antics of today's stars.