In 1923, a 19-year-old Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is on his way to Chicago to try out for the Chicago Cubs as a baseball pitcher. Along the way, the train stops at a carnival, and Hobbs is challenged to strike out “The Whammer” (Joe Don Baker), the top hitter in the Majors. Sportswriter Max Mercy (Robert Duvall), traveling with Whammer, draws a picture of the event. Hobbs also encounters Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey), an alluring woman, who becomes fixated on him after he strikes out Whammer. Bird lures Hobbs to her hotel room, shoots him, then commits suicide. It is revealed that Bird kills rising athletes, having already murdered two others. Skip to 1939. The New York Knights sign the now 35-year-old Hobbs to a contract, to the ire of the team’s manager and co-owner, Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley). With the Knights mired in last-place, Pop is angry over being saddled with a “middle-aged” rookie. During the next game, the team’s star player, “Bump” Bailey (Michael Madsen), angers Pop with his lackadaisical playing, and Pop sends Hobbs to pinch hit. Hobbs literally knocks the cover off the baseball, winning the game. When Bump later dies after crashing through an outfield fence, Hobbs becomes the league’s sensation, turning the Knights’ fortunes around. Hobbs’ success prompts Mercy to try to unearth Hobbs’ background. Later, Hobbs is summoned to a meeting with the principal owner of the team, The Judge (Robert Prosky). The Judge has an agreement with Pop that if the Knights fail to win the Pennant at the end of the season, Pop’s share of the team reverts to the Judge. To ensure the team loses, the Judge had a scout stock the roster with unknown players like Hobbs. When Hobbs refuses a bribe to throw the season, gambler Gus Sands (Darren McGavin) and the Judge devise a plan to manipulate him though Memo Paris (Kim Basinger), Pop’s niece and Bump’s former girlfriend. Hobbs needs to figure out what´s important in life and in baseball…

Barry Levinson´s “The Natural” is claimed to be one of the most beloved sports movies of all time and I have been keen to see it for a long time. I do like baseball and I understand the magic of the sport despite the fact that I´m european. My problem with “The Natural” is the fairy-tale or of other-worldliness that is the base of the story. A touch of “Forrest Gump” if you will. I simply don´t buy into the storyline of the all american sports superhero/godlike creature finally making it in at an older age with a bat made out of a tree struck by lightning. And I think the movie is as well inconsistent, slow-paced and not that engaging. It´s almost like it´s an idol portrait of Robert Redford (whom I have all the respect for as an actor) and that´s pretty much it. It´s simply not really what I hoped for. (3 out of 5)

the-natural-movie-poster-1984-1020189606