If there’s one thing I admire about cinema, it is the ability to blend together vastly different genres to give us a wholly unique and captivating experience. “Field of Dreams” takes two types of stories from completely separate worlds, fantasy and sports, and creates a charming, wholesome, heart-lifting film.
I don’t normally enjoy films about sports, due to their predictable formula and clichés about the underdog overcoming every adversity. But “Field of Dreams” escapes that by using baseball as its backdrop and passion that unites the world, rather than having it define the movie. While the fantasy elements certainly help its case, its love for the game and the sense of nostalgia is what really makes it stand out.
The film is set in the rural farms of Iowa, where baseball-fanatic Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) has made a living for himself growing corn with his wife and daughter. But one day, Ray starts hearing voices out in his field, repeating the same thing over and over again – If you build it, he will come. As if struck by divine guidance, Ray interprets this message as a sign that he should convert his corn field into a baseball field. And sure enough, once he builds the field, magical events start happening.
The acting in “Field of Dreams” is a mixed bag. Kevin Costner brings his usual bland and uninterested tone, as even during the more personal and earth-shattering moments he can barely find the strength to work up a smile, let alone give us a decent reaction. That being said, Amy Madigan, who plays Annie Kinsella, is overflowing with positivity and joy that it almost makes you forget that Kevin Costner is hardly acting. Every time she’s on screen, you can tell that she’s having a blast and genuinely loves being her supportive and lovable character. James Earl Jones plays a famous writer who has lost interest in the world and brings a lot of snark to the film, as well as a connection between the past and the present.
Although the acting certainly gets boosted further with the final film appearance from Burt Lancaster, who brings the same energy, charm and enthusiasm that he always had throughout his career. As a capstone to his acting career, Lancaster gives us one final chance to see his sentimental side.
But the biggest reason “Field of Dreams” works as well as it does is because of its passion for baseball and how it connects people in so many invisible ways. The film lovingly paints a tapestry of baseball history, explaining what happened to certain baseball players and their statistics, and telling us how there is no feeling quite like playing on a baseball field surrounded by caring fans. Most importantly, that whatever may happen in the world, no matter what troubles and problems we may experience, we’ll always have something to root for out on that baseball diamond. Baseball is not just a uniter, but a love that will never fade.
Overall, “Field of Dreams” is a charming film that loves baseball as much as any one else, and wants to share that love with the rest of the world. It has some heartfelt performance, though some are better than others, and some effectively sentimental writing that hits the right notes when it needs to. The fantasy elements are all over the place, but the passion and love for baseball more than makes up for that. If you are even remotely interested in baseball, or are intrigued by the sport, then check out “Field of Dreams” to see the true strength of the sport.
Final Grade: B