Pastime (1991)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Sports Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 23, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Baseball has always had a built-in sense of wistfulness, and the washed-up veteran pitcher is a pretty archetypal representation of that. The subject matter of Pastime is not, therefore, what you would call "new"; even the title recalls the sport's American pastoral origins, and that's far from the only derivative element in the movie. But that doesn't mean Robin B. Armstrong's film doesn't contain a few surprises -- curveballs, if you will. Like the lazy pace of the game itself, Pastime lulls viewers into thinking it's a straightforward, sentimental baseball movie about an aw-shucks minor league pitcher trying to keep his plucky good humor, despite being well past his prime. Much of William Russ' performance as Roy Dean Bream -- what is it about fictitious baseball players named Roy? -- reinforces that stereotype. However, in a couple key scenes, Russ lets loose with anguish and frustration that are far more intense than the usual display for a would-be stoical hero. The choice helps underscore just how professional sports consume their athletes, who in real life are notorious for their many false retirements, a bull-headed confidence in their eroding skills, and compromised dignity. While everything about Russ' performance is likeable, there's a sly element to his character that contradicts audience sympathy -- rooting for him is essentially like rooting for someone to keep deluding himself. The rest of the cast is made up of typical character types -- the brash locker room bully, the crusty old manager, the bottom-line owner -- and as the other clubhouse outsider, Glenn Plummer doesn't make much of an impression. But by virtue of its insightfulness and a few bits of unexpected daring, Pastime is a good enough way to while away a couple hours.