Pros: interesting background info, some good interviews & history
Cons: none for me
The Bottom Line: "sing us a song you're the piano man sing us a song tonight well we're all in the mood for a melody and you got us all feeling alright" ~Joel
In 1961 a man known as William A. Shea had a dream that was fulfilled on April 17, 1964, when a little place called Shea Stadium opened for business. On February 18, 2009, it was demolished to make way for a bigger, better venue. Admittedly, by all that attended games there, it was a dump, but it was their dump and they loved it.
On August 15, 1965, a little group known as The Beatles appeared in concert at Shea, making it the first appearance by a group in a major stadium. It seemed only fitting, at least to Billy Joel, that the final concert, July 16 & 18, 2008, The Last Play At Shea, should showcase The Beatles. Not the easiest feat to accomplish, considering Paul McCartney was appearing In London at the same time. However, having the title of Sir in front of your name gets you some perks and he did manage to make an appearance with less than a half hour remaining in the concert.
Of course I assumed this would be your typical concert footage, which would have been enjoyable enough, but it was so much more. It was 90 minutes rich with history about the stadium, the teams, the players, musicians, and the evolution of suburban life. Interspersed between short interviews are segments of Joel performing at the concert as well as archived footage from his career.
Even though I felt somewhat cheated by not being able to enjoy an entire performance by Joel, Sting, Roger Daltry, John Mayer, Garth Brooks, Don Henley, and Steven Tyler, we are given a resounding performance, two in fact, by Paul McCartney and a bittersweet duet between Joel and Tony Bennett. I just had to satisfy myself with the small snippets they offered up.
One of the more enjoyable "interviews" was a segment about Pete Flynn who had been the groundskeeper for the entire 44 years Shea was in business. When McCartney arrived, he drove him out to the concert stage, commenting he had also driven the car that escorted The Beatles on their first trip. As a side note, Mike Piazza, in one of his small interviews, commented that Flynn was always in a tither when it was time for the children to run the bases, grumbling about them messing up his turn. I can't imagine how he felt about concert stages being erected on that bluegrass!
When they transferred from the concert to the interviews narration was done by Alec Baldwin. Beside Piazza & Flynn, others interviewed were Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Tom Seaver, Christie Brinkley, and a bevy of people that surround Joel's daily life.
DVD extras: deleted scenes; previews; interview with Chuck Klosterman; feature: Billy Joel's Front Row Ticket Santa.
Overall impression: This would have been great broken down into two separate documentaries - one with the concert and one with the stadium info. Despite that, it grew on you in a sentimental way, even if you aren't a Mets fan, and you felt their pride, disappointment, and finally sadness as we watch the stadium being demolished in fast speed.
I enjoyed hearing the history of both the stadium and Joel. For a documentary the transfer was strong during the current things; archived footage is what it is, archived, flaws and all. The music rocked but it was almost a background thing compared to everything else being covered. All that aside, I highly recommend it.