Review: Undrafted (15) by @MazzelloJoe


Time: 90mins
About: When twelve ragtag teammates set out to play what should be a meaningless summer intramural baseball game, it ends up becoming the most important game of their lives.
Director: Joe Mazzello
Trailer:

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mazSo, you’ve been to the cinema a hundred times to see Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ve basked in the awesomeness of Rami Malek and you’ve realised Joe Mazzello has spent way too long off your movie radar?

Well, my friends… it’s not that the clone of John Deacon has been off our screens since his electrifying stint on Jurassic Park, it’s just that he’s moved away from staring roles (Star Kid, Simon Birch) like he did in the 90s. I’ll be going back and looking at his other roles over the next few weeks, but I need to start with a special film.

Undrafted is clearly a work of passion and something close to the heart of Joe Mazzello; it’s based upon his own brother, John, and the local baseball team where the Mazzello brothers grew up. There’s such a sincerity and heart from the moment it starts that its a must watch for anyone who was won over by Joe’s charm in the Queen biopic. Just be warned; you’ll be begging for his next directorial offering once you’ve finished.

Plot
Its a simple plot, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a sub-par movie. The focus and charm is not in the plot, but the characters. It’s a bottle film; everything centers around a single baseball game and the team’s disappointment that one of their own didn’t make the cut.
Maz should have been drafted; everyone on the team knows it and their frustration is tangible. Last thing they need is to play against another local team who are prepared to play dirty to win. While Maz is the catalyst and the character who develops the most throughout the film, he’s not the only one who will keep you focused.
It feels like Remember the Titans meets Little Rascals in all of the right ways. You can’t help but love this team of angry misfits. From Palacco’s entrance and British twang, to Pat Murray’s half-time meltdown, you really get to understand what being undrafted means to everyone.
When it comes down to it, this film is about family. It’s about overcoming defeat, picking yourself up and dusting yourself off before starting again. Maz’s final act is one of wonderful growth and true cinematic climax. It’s through this development that the group truly become a team.

Casting
Tyler Hoechlin plays pitcher Dells. One of the brilliant things about an independent movie like Undrafted is that you get to spot people from your favourite shows. Hoechlin can currently be seen flying in and out of the CWs Supergirl as Clark Kent and his alter ego. He’s wonderfully heavy hearted and I do feel there’s more to know about his character than what is seen in the 90 minutes.

Casting Jim Belushi as the Mazzello patriarch was a stroke of genius. He provides a warmth and a wisdom that brings heart to the film; the relationship he has with Aaron Tveit’s Maz is delightful to watch. Knowing Belushi is portraying someone real only adds to his presence on screen.

Joe Mazzello is a powerhouse on this film. Not only does he write and direct, the man also takes on the role of Murray too. It’s a role unlike any I’ve seen Mazzello play (aside from Presumed Innocent and Wooly Boys, I think I’ve seen them all). The meltdown Murray has and his monologue is raw, emotional and frighteningly empowering. I am ashamed to say, grown up Joe Mazzello swearing his way through 90 minutes of game play had me giggling. I grew up with this guy in some of my favourite films, having him curse had me laughing like one of the kids I teach when I’m telling them off.

Sports
The very fact that I like this film, gives a good indication of how well it was made. I don’t think I like sports. Other than Ice Hockey, I haven’t watched a full match. Any football match I watched with my boyfriend-at-the-time was laced with cocktails. Lots and lots of cocktails. As a kid, I didn’t ‘watch’ the match; I heard them on the radio. It sucked and sort of ruined football for me.
However, what I do love are movies about sports; Escape to Victory, The Wrestler, The Damned United, Rocky and Eddie the Eagle are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sports movies. Undrafted is no exception. I am none the wiser about the rules of the game but, bloody hell, I think if I was to go to a match I’d be hooked.


Over to you:
What’s your favourite Joe role?
What do you think of BoRhap?
What’s your favourite sports movie?

Love Han x

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