Saturday, September 25, 2010


CALVIN MARSHALL (Dir. Gary Lundgren, 2009)

Alex Frost as the 21 year old title character has big dreams of playing Major League Baseball.

Frost is a student at a fictitious college in Oregon who has tried out for the school’s Junior College team (the Bayford Bisons) for 3 straight years only to be told by the scruffy coach (Steve Zahn) that he again didn’t make the cut.

Frost has a hard time taking no for an answer so he tells people (including his aunt and her boyfriend played by Jane Adams and Andrew Wilson) that he has a hand injury and has to sit on the sidelines until he heals.

Meanwhile while covering girls volleyball for a local cable access sports show, Frost meets Michelle Lombardo as the uber-skilled star of their school’s team.

Lombardo believes Frost to be the baseball star he claims to be and a romance develops.

Frost is able to weasel his way back onto the baseball diamond by way of adding his name to a faked computer printout of team members. Although angered by this, Zahn begrudgingly admires the kid’s ambition and love of the game.

Zahn’s performance as a once promising baseball player who never made the big-time owns this cute, but inconsequential little indie. His Coach Little is a extremely amusing boozing womanizer who tries to impress whatever woman he’s just picked up with the same lines usually under baseball field lights late at night.

Otherwise CALVIN MARSHALL follows a tried and true formula – one in which a delusional underdog gets the girl, loses the girl, yet still learns big truths about himself and life by the time the credits roll.

Frost, at times resembling a young John Cusack (SAY ANYTHING era) has an earnest tone which makes him appropriately sympathetic.

There is sweetness to the courting scenes between Frost and Lombardo, but the film takes no chances with their arc and that deflates the sentimentality of its conclusion.

The forced predicament of Zahn putting the moves on Lombardo behind Frost’s back doesn’t help things either. The film presents these generic story-lines as just obstacles that can be overcome by big speeches.

Those who have lamented unfulfilled dreams of sports glory may be touched by CALVIN MARSHALL more than I was, but for a non-sports guy who still often likes baseball movies – because of a superb turn by Steve Zahn and its likeable spirit - it just barely makes the cut.

More later...

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