"Hits and Misses"
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Set in New York City in 1986, GAME 6 is accomplished novelist Don DeLillo’s first attempt at screenwriting, and the results are hit and miss. The movie whiffs more than it connects, suffering from an uneven narrative and unconvincing dialogue. Plagued by strong foul language, alcohol abuse, sexual content, and a mixed pagan worldview, GAME 6 strikes out as a flat and lackluster movie.
(Pa, FR, C, LL, V, SS, NN, AA, D, MM) Light, eclectic pagan worldview with some false religion elements, as well as one edifying Christian character who encourages the protagonist to have faith in God; at least four profanities and nine obscenities, including several ‘f’ words; brief violence depicting a man getting mugged; one scene of depicted adultery and one scene of depicted fornication; brief upper female nudity as well as a scene with a woman in skimpy lingerie; several scenes of alcohol consumption and one of drunkenness; some smoking; and, bad role models and dishonesty.
Set in New York City in 1986, GAME 6 is a comedy drama about a neurotic playwright’s preparation for the debut of his latest production.
Nicky Rogan (played by Michael Keaton) has written a string of successful comic plays, but his latest effort is a serious personal drama, and he is more than a little unhinged on the day it opens. Nicky’s shakiness can be attributed to many factors, including the fact that drama critic Steven Schwimmer (played by Robert Downey Jr.), known as “the phantom who haunts Broadway,” will be among those in attendance. Schwimmer’s acid pen has shattered the careers of many other playwrights, including Nicky’s friend Elliott (Griffin Dunne), who half-jokingly encourages Nicky to murder the critic before he can view the play. Fittingly, Schwimmer’s notoriously ruthless critiques have forced him to live a lonely, gun-toting existence of paranoia and seclusion, so much so that he often attends performances incognito.
Nicky has other reasons to be nervous as well. His leading actor, suffering from some sort of short-term amnesia, is suddenly incapable of remembering his most important lines.
In addition to his artistic and career-oriented woes, personal demons also chafe Nicky’s sanity, sending additional ripples through his waters of trembling neurosis. His college-aged daughter, Laurel (Ari Graynor), has learned of her father’s marital infidelity, and begrudgingly delivers her mother’s message that an expensive divorce is imminent. Oddly enough, perhaps the single most significant contributor to Nicky’s anxiety is the fact that his beloved Boston Red Sox are playing in game six of the World Series that same evening, and Nicky believes the eternally cursed Sox are bound to choke away yet another chance at a world championship.
GAME 6 is accomplished novelist Don DeLillo’s first attempt at screenwriting, and the results are hit and miss. Internally-conflicted characters are more easily depicted in the form of a novel, a medium that allows a writer much more space with which to maneuver. Translating a character’s deep-seated struggles to the big-screen, on the other hand, is a tricky endeavor that depends on an actor’s performance as much as the story’s character development. DeLillo’s script seems to put little faith in the ability of its performers, and the narrative suffers from a spotty unevenness as well as lines that are probably more suitable for the written page.
GAME 6 comes across as flat and lackluster, although the culprit is tough to pin. Perhaps the movie’s uninspired quality can be attributed to its anti-hero protagonist, a character lacking qualities needed to persuade the audience to forgive his infidelity and chronic lying. The audience is also likely aware of Bill Buckner’s infamous gaffe that cost the Red Sox game six (and ultimately the championship), so a mildly depressing ambiance permeates the movie. Because the audience realizes the ball is going to roll inevitably between Buckner’s legs, they sense that Nicky’s world is likewise doomed.
The movie’s occasional redemptive elements are few, which make them stand out against their dreary backdrop. A God-fearing taxi driver stresses to Nicky the importance of having a strong faith, repeating several times enthusiastically, “God has blessed me, He blesses me every day!” Robert Downey Jr., as usual, exerts a fine performance, and his character is both funny and interesting. Also, indie rockers Yo La Tengo has recorded the movie’s score, which easily surpasses their most recent efforts from JUNEBUG.
With an uneven narrative and unconvincing dialogue, however, GAME 6 whiffs more than it connects. The movie is plagued by strong foul language, alcohol abuse, sexual content, and a mixed pagan worldview. Ultimately, GAME 6 strikes out.
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