When I was in high school (back in the Dark Ages), the announcement that we would be viewing a documentary was a mixed blessing. Watching a movie — any movie — was always preferable to watching a teacher at the blackboard. But the films themselves were often dry and dull. You had to decide whether to learn about the migration patterns of geese — or take a surreptitious nap when the lights went off.
I thought of this yesterday after I watched The Saint of Second Chances on Netflix, about St. Paul Saints founder and owner Mike Veeck. The film was entertaining … but entertaining to a fault?
Documentaries these days, unlike those long-ago docs about migrating geese, are often more watchable than most fiction offerings on Netflix. But I don’t trust them. (See, for example, the popular-but-tainted Making of a Murderer from 2015.)
Saint borders on hagiography, with many unanswered questions about Veeck’s life, and lots of sugar-coating. At one point, we learn about the rehabilitation and redemption of baseball star Darryl Strawberry, who, we are told, rediscovered his “love of the game” after a short stint with the Saints. I later checked Strawberry’s bio and learned that a few years after his return to Major League Baseball, he was again suspended for drug violations.
I guess he forgot about his love for the game. No mention of his relapse in the movie.
Veeck himself is portrayed as a fun-loving hustler who wanted nothing more than to bring joy to the world. The facts that he was apparently a heavy drinker and, for much of his adult life, an absentee father, are glossed over.
It is an entertaining movie; critics and regular folk alike seem to love it. But is it a “documentary”?
I think we need a new genre description. Perhaps “docufantasy”?
The Upside of A.I.
Now that artificial intelligence has entered the picture, I’d just like to say this: If I manage to offend you with my opinions on this site, just remember that it might not be my ramblings. It could be the opinions of some trouble-making robot.
On the other hand, if you enjoy what you read here, the scribblings were no doubt penned by me.
Am going to add a new category to Reviews in Short: “Would I Watch It Again?”
Now you know.
© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)