MR. BASEBALL - Golden Oldies Finally On DVD
For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, July 5, 2019
EDITOR’S NOTE: One of Tom Selleck’s several attempts at movie stardom, ‘Mr. Baseball’ was yet another swing and a miss. It’s not unwatchable and fans will enjoy seeing Selleck in a baseball uniform but others will not be converted. And since it is enjoying a new blu-ray upgrade courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, here’s a look at my review, published in the Deseret News on Oct. 7, 1992.
Tom Selleck is perfect as "Mr. Baseball," an "Ugly American" in Japan (he's traded, believe it or not, to a Japanese team by the New York Yankees).
Of course, he's not happy when the trade decision is announced, especially since it seems to be based on his unsavory lifestyle more than his ball-playing ability. (He's been arrested for drunken driving, and his carousing doesn't go with the image advertisers want projected in TV commercials.)
Selleck is, of course, bigger in stature than the Japanese people who surround him, making for many obvious sight gags. He's also rude and obnoxious to everyone he encounters.
Tom Selleck is confronted by his Japanese teammates, 'Mr. Baseball'
To make matters worse, he's in a hitting slump, and the team manager — not to mention the team's owners — aren't happy about it. (The manager is played by Ken Takakura, one of Japan's biggest stars, whose American films include "The Yakuza" and "Black Rain.")
Selleck does manage to hit it off with a young woman (Aya Takanashi) he meets at the ballpark and eventually they get romantic, though it's an unlikely romance at best.
In the end, Selleck must humble himself and accept "Karate Kid"-style training from the manager in order to become a better ballplayer. Ultimately, he becomes the homerun king — and gets an offer to return to the states. Will he accept it? Or will he stay in Japan and become a nicer human being?
If you don't know the answer to that one, you don't see enough movies.
Selleck is obviously having the time of his life in this role, which seems tailor-made for him (though softening the character's nasty edge wouldn't have hurt). And the supporting cast is quite good. (Including Dennis Haysbert as a fellow American ballplayer and Toshi Shioya as Selleck's interpreter.)
But the script, credited to five writers, is strictly by-the-numbers, fish-out-of-water stuff, plotted simplistically and loaded with cheap jokes based on stereotypes.
Worse, director Fred Schepisi ("Roxanne," "A Cry in the Dark," "The Russia House") doesn't seem to have a sense for the comedy here, though he does stage the ball games pretty well.
"Mr. Baseball" is rated PG-13 for considerable nudity and profanity (including some vulgar phrases), some violence and implied sex.