The Slugger’s Wife (1985)

Directed by Hal Ashby

What a weird entry into the Baseball movie marathon this movie is. The Slugger’s Wife is a strange one for sure, for a few different reasons. One, it is not a film I have seen before, and I’ve wondered occasionally why that was since it is a baseball movie. Perhaps I always figured with a title like that, and the presence of a name like Rebecca De Mornay, the film would be a little more adult than my tastes generally lean. Another reason this is a strange entry is Hal Ashby, a director who doesn’t seem to be the type to direct a sports movie, and perhaps this is an early indication of the product to come. Lastly, The Slugger’s Wife is a stranger entry into the baseball movie marathon because it’s just not very good.

The film concerns Darryl Palmer (Michael O’Keefe), a mediocre right fielder for a struggling Atlanta Braves club. Palmer has some pop in his bat, but when he sets eyes on nightclub singer Debby Huston (Rebecca De Mornay) he finds a new level of focus and dedication on the field, striving for excellence to impress Debby. The couple are soon married, and Darryl is on a torrid home run pace. But the strain of being Darryl’s good luck charm begins to concern Debby, who feels suffocated from having to serve as a good luck charm while she strives to build her own career in the music industry.

The Slugger’s Wife is basically a baseball soap opera. The premise is a bit ridiculous and misogynistic, since it never really feels remorse for its treatment of the women in the film. De Mornay holds down the film as much as she can, but the oddly comical performance of O’Keefe really brings things down. I’m not sure what recently Oscar nominated Randy Quaid is doing here, with basically nothing to do. Perhaps his relationship with Ashby spurred on his supporting role of nothingness. The script is penned by Neil Simon, and while I can’t tell you what he is necessarily known for off hand, I know he is a well-known playwright and screenwriter. But as I said before, the film plays out like a poorly conceived soap opera, with poor acting and personality from the cast to match.

The baseball sequences aren’t even noteworthy. O’Keefe for instance does not strike me as a baseball player, particularly with his rough swing in the film which leaves me wondering how he hits all those home runs (and he has a ridiculous bat flip to boot). Baseball takes the back seat and not much importance is put on the outcome of the games other than a clichéd last game of the season chance at the pennant. The record Palmer is after is downplayed enough for me to wonder why they even included it. There are no noteworthy scenes, there are no noteworthy performances. All in all, The Slugger’s Wife is a very bland, unbelievable, and overall poor baseball film.

** – Poor

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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