Sunday, July 11, 2010
From the same team that made Half Nelson comes this story about a baseball player, MIguel "Sugar" Santos, from the Dominican Republic who gets called up to the Kansas City Royals Triple-A team, hopefully to one day go to the majors. The movie is definitely at its most interesting as it showcases Sugar's struggles not only in trying to become a major league ballplayer, which is done very well. But also his struggles in being a 19 year old from the Dominican Republic transplanted to the Midwestern United States-where he has to deal not only his performance on the field, but navigating in a place that largely does not speak his language, outside of some of his teammates on the diamond. You get the idea that the MLB might be able to be a bit more helpful to these players if they either sponsored some English classes for them, or had a translator around or something-a lot of misunderstandings could have been avoided. Miguel lived with a host family that couldn't speak Spanish, and his coach on the team could hardly speak to him. I mean, he picked things up after a while, but still, it has to be unbelievably hard trying to not only reach the major leagues but also to suddenly be transported thousands of miles away from home with little to no safety net or backup besides the friends he makes on the field.
At any rate, it plays sort of like an interesting, somewhat slow character study from the seventies. Its particularly interesting to for baseball fans who have to be curious about this sort of thing. Ultimately you gain a deeper understanding of these players' lives.
Sadly, though, the man who plays Sugar, Algenis Perez Soto, is not an actor but a ballplayer that the filmmakers actually pulled off the field in the Dominican Republic. So while he looks good playing baseball, as he should, but as an actor, he uses this long, expressionless stare for nearly every reaction, and it gets kind of boring, and he becomes sort inscrutable.