Episode 36, June 16, 2017: The Natural

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Dr. George chimes in on gunshot wounds and exploding stomach syndrome, strange baseball facts, and Karina rewrites the movie as a tragedy ending with an inferno. Things get heated as we discuss The Natural.

Warning: Spoilers, adult humor, and harsh language ahead. Listen at your own risk.

Show Notes:

2DudeReview - Episode 36: The Natural

I. Introduction
- Discuss site, Twitter, etc.

II. Our bet

III. Tidbits/Things to Discuss

The Natural vs. King Arthur

When Chad decided to pick the Barry Levinson film, The Natural I was expecting a baseball movie ala Bull Durham but with a less comedic flare. I watched the film and did my usual research looking up directors, actors, on-set shenanigans, etc. and stumbled on a quote from the New Yorker that discussed the film as a baseball version of the Legend of King Arthur.

Now I will be the first to admit, I don't really remember my high school English class when King Arthur was discussed. Most of my knowledge comes from song lyrics, interpretations done by 80's movies (I'm looking at you Excalibur), and we even now have a Guy Richie movie about the man starring Jax from Sons of Anarchy. So I read a little bit about him to see if I could get some sort of podcast fodder from, what I saw to be, the New Yorker's far-fetched comparison.

Let's recap the movie a little bit here, we got the farmboy, Roy Hobbes, whose daddy dies and then the world blesses him with a lightning storm that shatters a tree and gives him the makings of a bat that seems to be able to do no wrong. He travels to show off his skills as a baseball master and is able to strike out a guy who resembles Babe Ruth (but isn't Babe Ruth) known as "The Whammer." He strikes out "The Whammer" and catches the eye of Harriet Bird. Bird shoots Hobbes in the old gut after asking him if he will be the best that ever played and then tosses herself out a window. Sixteen years go by and Roy spends it doing a Homer-esque journey avoiding his childhood sweetheart (Bird even asks Hobbes if he ever read Homer before she shoots him). Hobbes comes back to try to play some more ball. He ends up on Pops Fisher's team and tears it up. But, he finds himself in the midst of a custody dispute between two owners and takes the high road sticking with Pops over The Judge (yes, these are the names). In the process he starts to date/sleep with a woman named Memo (yes, that is her name) and his baseball playing goes all to hell. He gets hurt again when Memo drugs him, dumps the Memo, finds out he has a kid, and hits a ball that shatters a bunch of lights and wins the pennant and ends the movie.

Alright, so what does this well directed, well acted, but rather cliche movie have to do with King Arthur? Let's start simple. The team that Roy Hobbes ends up playing for is the New York Knights (i.e. Knights of the Round Table). We have Iris who watches over Roy. He is annointed the "King of Baseball." The three pitches he whiffs "The Whammer" with can easily be seen as Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. Wonderboy breaking could be compared to the loss of Exaclibur. Then we have Max Mercy (Robert Duvall's newspaper man), the Merlin of the story, who tells of prophecies shaping the future of baseball with his articles and drawings while making a name for himself at the same time. Let's not forget Memo - the one Pops warns is bad luck. She can easily be perceived as Guinevere. She brings on the bad luck that Hobbes experiences and squashes the innocent, farmboy persona who knocked up his childhood sweetheart Iris. Her role, along with The Judge (her daddy) attempt to corrupt Hobbes.

We discuss this and more during our 6/16/17 podcast.

Other Show Notes:
New coach: Meet me at the hotel? "No thanks, last time I was in a hotel my ass got shot."
WTF is with the character names: we have Max Mercy (Robert Duvall), Iris Gaines (Glenn Close), Memo Paris (Kim Basinger), Pops Fisher (Wilford Brimley), Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey), Judge (Robert Prosky), Red Blow (Richard Farnsworth), The Whammer (Joe Don Baker), Gus Sands (Darren McGavin)
Holy hell, does Michael Madsen age?!?!
Apparently rain delays don't exist in old school baseball.
Michael Madsen's Bump Bailey died doing what he loves, running into walls.
Concept of loss of innocence/success and failure?
WTF is Harriet Bird's reasoning for killing the "best" atheletes?
Other baseball movies stole things from this: Major League - fill the team with losers so they can sell it. Bull Durham - passing notes during the game. The hex in baseball with women (except Bull Durham he played better for not getting laid).

IV. How rotten is The Natural? The Natural was given an % by Rotten Tomatoes. Do the following films fall higher or lower than %?

V. Mention next film, plus reiterate the Web site and social media feeds

VI. Final Grade of A-F

Chad's Grade: B+
Brian's Grade: B-
Karina's Grade: C