Archives for posts with tag: aaron tveit

Undrafted is a feel-good movie about a rag-tag bunch of losers who care too much about something that doesn’t matter. In this case: baseball. Baseball in adult amateur leagues on Long Island.

Maz (Aaron Tveit) is the titular undrafted ballplayer, and the plot consists of his realizing over the course of seven innings that he loves baseball after all, and doesn’t want to stew in bitterness for the rest of his life. That’s not really much of a plot, and given the rest of the ingredients it shouldn’t be much of a movie. And, to be fair, The Natural this ain’t. It’s not even Bull Durham.

This movie, however, suffers from very few of the usual problems of similar, small productions–the writing isn’t painful, and the pacing is surprisingly good. The boys on the team have compelling chemistry, perhaps because the team is made up of Aaron Tveit and dudes who have been in TV shows with Aaron Tveit (Chace Crawford as Barone, Manny Montana as Zapata). And, either because or although it is based on a true story, which is often the kiss of death, the quirks of the various players are both specific and touching. Attempted verisimilitude about human foibles is generally dreadful, but not here. Vinnie (Jay Hayden) bugs the living hell out of me, but I know guys like that, so I let it go.

It gets a little heavy-handed and cheesy, of course. I mean, the guy who wrote it about his brother is in the movie. Maz has an at-bat that lasts about half an hour because it has to rehearse his entire life and devotion to the game. Almost everyone gets a little speech about how great baseball is. Somehow, though, it mostly comes off as genuine.

Oh, but if you don’t like baseball…I hope you have a really big crush on Nate Archibald, because there’s not much else here for you.

Stray observations:

  • Cute baseball socks.
  • They sing the League of Their Own song. It is mesmerizing.
  • Full disclosure: I had to turn off the trailer in the middle out of embarrassment (it doesn’t matter why I was watching it). And then I mentioned to a friend that Tony Romo was an executive producer, and she made me buy it. Ten minutes later I was going to demand the price of it in reparations, but eighty minutes after that I decided that wouldn’t be necessary.

Director: Joseph Mazzello
Rating: ? Quite sweary.
Length: 90 minutes
Score: bats awful, but has an OBP of .379

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It is mesmerizing to me that someone once looked at roughly twelve pounds of Victor Hugo’s nonsense and thought, “I bet that would make a great musical.” I resisted the musical for a long time, because I had read the book and success seemed unlikely, and also because little girls are taught “Castle on a Cloud” in music class, and Cosette was rather a wet blanket. But Pandora had other ideas, and the rest of the show is mostly better, and there we were in 2012 and I went to the cinema and was not greatly disappointed.

Most people, when they saw Les Mis the film, were disappointed because the singing wasn’t that good, or that Samantha Barks was thrown to Broadway diehards like a pacifier to a fussy infant. And they hated both Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe. I’m not particularly interested in those factors, and neither are you, three and a half years later.

My problems stem from twin causes: changes the musical had to make because it wasn’t three years long and Marius had to be likable, and choices the movie made from the musical that exacerbated those flaws.

Marius Pontmercy, in the book, is extremely handsome. So far, so good. He’s dark where Eddie Redmayne is incipiently ginger, but that’s all right. The other thing about Marius, though, is that he’s a drip. He has cards printed calling himself a baron (his father was vaguely entitled to do so), has stupid fights with his rich relatives, is too lazy to do the very undemanding work that his school friends find him when he needs money, decides that the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen is named Ursule (I mean, come on), and after talking to her once decides that he’d rather die than lose her, so he belatedly cares about the revolution in which his friends ardently believe. They, unlike him, are interesting and varied.

This is my main problem with the show. I love everything to do with these lads. They’re not viciously useless, like Fantine’s lover’s crowd. They’re not venal, like the Thénardiers. They’re not hopelessly boring, like Cosette. They’re crazy, and probably wrong, and criminally naïve, but they’re more like people than anyone else Victor Hugo limned. Hugo’s Enjolras is a glorious lunatic Adonis. The musical’s Enjolras is a mildly nuts co-firebrand. Tom Hooper’s Enjolras is a handsome, scarlet-clad, interchangeable sidekick until the moment of his death (not Aaron Tveit’s fault). Except for one sublime second of mad joy when he first scrambles behind the barricade, Enjolras is just like all the others, aside from the jacket. Now, I get it. Marius has to believe in the cause, because otherwise Marius is an unappealing moral tourist, so he takes half of Enjolras’s revolutionary vim, and Enjolras just gets to be a moderately self-righteous scold.

And this is why you shouldn’t cut any of “Drink with Me.” Because then it’s not just about Marius, and you give the boys a little more time to be different from each other. A little more time for Enjolras to have crazier eyes, or for Grantaire to be noticeably drunker than everyone else, or for us to learn which one Courfeyrac actually is. A little more time for you to see that they do care, and not just because they have a crush on some blonde they’ve hardly met. Maybe a little time to see why Grantaire claws himself out of a hangover to die next to Enjolras. Too much to ask?

Still, though. I am at home for ruffly shirts and barricades, and this movie is gorgeous.

Stray observations:

  • We do not need to see Javert’s back break. No, thank you.
  • The early 1830s had bad sleeves, huh.
  • I hate the Thénardiers so much, but since you’re supposed to, I’m not sure I can dock points for it.
  • Grantaire is my spirit animal. There is no chance I won’t be hungover when the revolution comes.

Director: Tom Hooper
Rating: PG-13
Length: 158 minutes
Score: 4/5