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Field of Dreams

A 1998 movie directed by Phil Alden Robinson.

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Bring the High Cheese!

  • Jul 1, 2000
  • by
Pros: heart-warming, Costner LOOKS good

Cons: cheesy, Costner's acting, cliches galore

I re-watched this movie the other night, and despite the fact that certain lines were so cliched that I wanted to groan out loud, I still found it to be a heart-warming film.

In other words, I am conflicted about how to rate "Field of Dreams." It is cheesy, Costner's acting is weak, the story is predictable, but there is a certain intangible quality to this movie that makes it appealing. Maybe it is the fact that I love baseball. Cliches seem less offensive when they refer to baseball.

This movie follows that timeless American formula: man goes on journey to discover something about himself and the world along with another man. The first man thinks about his relationship with his father and the second man, a member of a marginalized group, helps him. In "Field of Dreams," these two prototypes are Kevin Costner ("Ray Kinsella") and James Earl Jones (as "Terrence Mann"). If you don't believe that this formula works think about "Huck Finn," cowboy and Indian stories, even "Lethal Weapon."

The basic story is that Ray Kinsella is a former hippy, who has settled down in Iowa with his wife and young daughter. He hears voices and sees visions of a baseball field, prompting him to plow under his corn and build the field. "Shoeless Joe" Jackson arrives on the scene and plays on the field with other ghosts of baseball. The plot is slow-moving and there could have been a lot more character development. The Shoeless Joe character is totally flat as are all of the other players except for Archie "Moonlight" Graham, a player who became a doctor after retiring from baseball without getting a single major league at bat.

Then there is the ever-popular figure of the evil brother-in-law who can't see the players on the field and thinks Ray is an idiot for destroying his crops. Timothy Busfield gives an unmemorable performance as this character. This part of the story establishes the economic angle, as the viewer is supposed to be worried that Ray will lose the farm, and with it, the baseball players.

But the main problem I had with this movie is that the Terrence Mann part of the story seems to have little to do with the rest of the movie. One of the voices in Ray's head tells him, "Ease his pain." Ray somehow figures out that "his" refers to Terrence Mann, during a school committee meeting at which townspeople are trying to ban one of Mann's books. He immediately knows that he must find Terrence Mann in Boston and take him to a game at Fenway Park. (The shots of Boston were a highlight of the movie!) Ray vaguely mentions that he read Mann's work as a young man and it alienated him from his father, who died before they could reconcile. But again, it is briefly mentioned and seems to have little to do with baseball.

Regardless of its flaws and its emphasis on the supernatural, I do enjoy this movie.


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October 03, 2011
You enjoyed it, but it's a minus one?? Emphasis on the supernatural was the whole point.

Actually it was pretty original and Costner does much better here than in his other baseball films.
More Field of Dreams reviews
Quick Tip by . October 03, 2011
posted in Just Baseball
If you want to really learn the spirit of the movie, visit the ballfield in Dyersville, Iowa. I have been there twice, once when there was a cornfield on the edge of the outfield. When someone walks out of the corn when you are at the right angle, it has the same spooky look as in the movie.
review by . January 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
How many men get to pursue their dreams? "Field of Dreams" is one man's quest to realize his one big moment. However, unlike most sports movies, the main character (Kevin Costner) isn't a star athlete, but rather a farmer who puts his faith in a mysterious voice from above. He goes around the country trying to figure out the connection between baseball and life - until he realizes it was all within himself. For sheer originality and creativity, the film is an easy 5-stars. The movie keeps you guessing …
review by . July 18, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
This ranks as one of my favorite movies of all time. You don't have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the nostalgia and warm heartedness this movie brings to the big screen - well little screen in the case of the DVD. It's part ghost story, part fantasy, part nostalgia. It's also about redemption and the fulfillment of dreams. The story begins when Ray Kinsella, a reluctant Iowa farmer, although he won't admit he's reluctant, starts hearing a voice telling him "build it and he will come." Ray dreams, …
review by . August 02, 2001
. . .baseball movie of all time.I saw this movie in the theatres back when it was first released (and nominated for the Academy Award). I now own it (and have for years) and re-watch it periodically.The movie succeeds on a number of levels. First, it shows great love and respect for the game of baseball -- the National Pastime. (Yes, I enjoy other sports as well -- but there is something very nearly religious about baseball -- and this shines through in the movie). Second, the cast is wonderful. …
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About this movie


A phenomenal hit when it was released in 1989,Field of Dreamshas become a modern classic and a uniquely American slice of cinema. It functions effectively as a moving drama about the power of dreams, a fantasy ode to our national pastime, and a brilliant adaptation of W.P. Kinsella's exquisite baseball novelShoeless Joe. Kinsella himself found the film a delightful surprise, differing greatly from his novel but benefiting from its own creative variations. It is the film that cemented Kevin Costner's status as an all-American screen star, but the story resonates far beyond Costner's handsome appeal. As just about everyone knows by now, Costner stars as Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, who hears the mysterious words "If you build it, he will come," and is compelled to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield. His wife (Amy Madigan) supports the wild idea, but a reclusive novelist (modeled after J.D. Salinger and played by James Earl Jones) is not so easily persuaded. The idealistic farmer is either a visionary or a deluded fool, but his persistence is rewarded when spirits from baseball's past begin appearing on the ball field. Past and present intermingle in the person of "Moonlight Graham" (superbly played by Burt Lancaster), an unknown player who sacrificed his dreams of baseball glory for a dignified life as a small-town physician ... but what all of this means is unclear until the film's memorably heartfelt conclusion. A ...
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Genre: Drama, Family, Sport
DVD Release Date: April 29, 1998
Runtime: 107 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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