It's not that Game 6, directed by Michael Hoffman (The Emperor's Club, Soapdish, One Fine Day) and written by popular novelist and debuting screenwriter Don DeLillo, doesn't have plenty of talent behind it. Toss in a lineup of exceptional acting talent that includes Michael Keaton, Bebe Neuwirth and Robert Downey, Jr. and the film suggests a winner.
But the big problem here is one of credibility, on a number of fronts. The gifted Keaton manages to put across bad-boy New York playwright Nicky Rogan as an essentially good guy, even though Nicky's a complex, messed-up dude. A former cabbie from a working-class background, he's beset by inner demons and walking/talking nuisances who include demanding mistress/producer/backer Joanna (Bebe Neuwirth), wayward daughter Laurel (Ari Graynor), oddball theatre critic Steven (Robert Downey, Jr.), divorce-hungry wife Lillian (Catherine O'Hara), and fellow playwright Elliott Litvak (Griffin Dunne), a manic, artsy guy who needs to clean up his act as well as his body. (If Dunne doesn't evoke a real character, at least he evokes a smell.)
But it's Nicky's obsession with the Boston White Sox-specifically the team's October 25, 1986 game against the Mets, which could give Beantown its first World Series since 1918-that is arguably the most egregious foul ball popping around in this 2004 production. As the Gotham-based story unfolds over a 24-hour period, we're asked to believe that even though Nicky's latest play is having its Broadway opening, all he can think about it is the game that same night.
Apart from the clobbering that Steven ("the city's most ruthless critic") is expected to give the play, there's also the problem of Peter Redmond (Harris Yulin), the brain-impaired lead, who absolutely cannot remember one simple line. Fleeing both his premiere and the vicious Steven, Nicky foregoes the theatre for a no-frills sports bar where he watches The Game with other fans, including the cabbie he commandeered and her son.
The film's preposterous ending, which takes place in eccentric Steven's loft, wouldn't even play on forgiving off-off Broadway. The movie also suffers from a dull and grainy video look. The sad truth is, there's more truth about theatre in the outrageous The Producers.