Review: Undrafted (15) by @MazzelloJoe

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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

Bohemian Rhapsody (12a)

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Bohemian Rhapsody (12a)
Running time: 134min

I don’t even know where to begin. I went in with only one wish, one expectation; that Joseph Mazzello’s British accent didn’t suck. I’ll save my gushing about Joe until later, but it’s safe to say that it was a winner and I wanted to watch it all over again the second it finished.

The media has been very unkind about this film. I always try and avoid reviews, but its hard when the puns lay it out with such brutality. One review makes sure you know their star rating regardless of whether you click or not.

The biggest criticism seems to be that the film ‘glosses over the seedier parts of Freddie’s life’. Certainly, from my perspective, the film not only addresses all parts of Mercury’s life, but it does it with class, respect and without sugar coating. For those who are criticising this film for what it misses out, I’ll remind you that I’ve yet to see a film about MLK that touches on his extramarital affairs.


The Good

From the opening bars to the final drum clash; it’s an epic biopic that the world has needed. It pulls no punches in setting up Freddie’s life as an outsider trying to shine.
Rami Malek has always been incredible; from his stint in the Night at the Museum films, to his staring role in Mr Robot he has always commanded your attention. Bohemian Rhapsody is no exception; his exotic charm and defiant nature will keep you hooked from start to finish. This wasn’t just an exercise in impersonation; Malek is deserving of an Oscar (read: ALL THE AWARDS) for his embodiment of the lead singer of Queen.

Both Ben Hardy and Gwilym Lee bring authenticity to their roles of original and current band members Roger Taylor and Brian May respectively. Each bringing warmth, Charisma and humour to the film. They work so well together, you’ll be wanting them to be announcing their own tour once the credits roll.

I can’t move on without talking a little bit more about the wonderful Joseph Mazzello. For those of you seeing that  smile and wondering where you’ve seen it before; he is one Tim Murphy from Jurassic Park. It just so happens that he is also my first ever celebrity crush. I would watch anything, and everything, he was in. It was great; he was in loads of things. Then he disappeared like many a child actor does. Can’t blame them; they want what everyone has, an education. He’d been off my radar for many years now.

However, here he is, all grown up and just like that; the crush is back. His acting, comic timing and charm are all spot on and pitch perfect for the role of John Deacon; the final member to join the band. The highlight of Mazzello’s performance being a scene in which his character dissolves the volatile tension between Freddie and Roger with a performance of John’s newly written song, Another One Bites the Dust. It is utterly brilliant; there’s comedy in their, but it also demonstrates John’s (and by extension, Joe’s) talent within the band. I know I’m bias, but he’s my favourite part of the film and I enjoyed every facial expression and bassist close up Bohemian Rhapsody could offer. Side bar; I want to listen to him talk in a British accent forever. I’m not one to tell you if it’s ‘good’. I thought Michael C Hall’s was alright in his Brit Thriller Safe, to then read a load of reviews calling it ‘shite’. I couldn’t tell you where in England John is from, but what I will say is; it was consistent, I bought it and it made me smile.

queen


The Bad

We can’t have a good biopic or a brilliant film without an antagonist. Allen Leech plays Paul Prenter; Freddie’s personal manager and occasional lover. He made my skin crawl, my heart ache and at times, I wanted to reach in and get Freddie out of harms way.

While I don’t know how much of the narrative relating to Pretner is true, it makes for an amazing story arch with the band and Freddie himself. We must expect some artistic licence with this medium of expression.

Other antagonists come in the form of Mike Myers. And what a joy it is to see him play Ray Foster, an EMI executive, hell bent on changing the released single on A Night at the Opera. Just wait for the Wayne’s World nod; it’s a nod and wink Easter egg that everyone needs.

mike m

Ugly

That has to be my tears. Oh I cried, and I ugly cried. From the inevitable signs of Freddie’s diagnosis, to the epically recreated LiveAid concert; I sobbed, I gasped, and I felt for Freddie Mercury. What an amazing man, who reached rock bottom, pulled himself back up only to be taken from the world.

There’s something about this film that hits an emotion raw spot. I’m glad we didn’t see his declining health and I was happy with the heavy suggestions of the life he delved into without plastering his personal life onto the screen. There’s something to be said about the changing attitude of society and it breaks my heart to think; if only society was so accepting of homosexuality, perhaps those like Freddie and Kenny Everett, who makes a brief appearance in the film, wouldn’t have felt the need to have their relationships in secret.

I also want to praise the film for having that upbeat ending without censoring Freddie’s condition. It’s a testament to British rock, to the men who have brought joy to anyone who has stood in a club come closing and swayed to the quintessential last song Don’t Stop Me Now. It’s a joy to watch, despite what the critics say, and I will be very disappointed if this film passes by without any award nominations.