After attending the premiere and watching 2012 San Francisco Giants: The Official World Series Film in the front row next to Daniel Zarchy of GiantsPod fame last night, I feel like I should let you know a little about the movie without providing too many spoilers.
(Insert requisite joke about how we all know the ending here.)
I haven’t written a movie review since my friend Carp and I played the roles of Siskel and Ebert for Eureka High’s student newspaper, The Redwood Bark. We usually chose movies that we figured would be terrible going in so we could write as sarcastically as possible (I’m looking at you, The Specialist). Another perk: the school’s finance lady would reimburse us for our movie tickets, a situation we may or may not have taken advantage of by soliciting ticket stubs from friends. I’m pretty sure we each made an $18 or $24 profit during our senior year.
In a related story, that finance lady was later arrested on charges of stealing $100,000 from Eureka City Schools, partly because she used a school credit card to pay for her family’s groceries for a decade. But that’s a long story that has nothing to do with the 2012 World Champs.
The Orange Carpet
Last night’s event at Castro Theatre started with a little crowd-hyping from Renel Brooks-Moon, who riled everyone up by mentioning how no one expected the Giants to defeat the Tigers, which was clearly an example of “East Coast Bias” (always a crowd pleaser). Then Jon Miller came out and transitioned from complimenting Renel to an impression of the late Bob Sheppard that had the deliriously happy (tipsy?) crowd roaring.
Then Mayor Ed Lee stepped to the podium in his orange Giants blazer and talked about how the Giants have “infected” city hall with a sense of teamwork and what Cincinnati (chili), St. Louis (ribs and beer) and Detroit (charity work done by Mayor Dave Bing) must pay after losing their respective bets with San Francisco.
Then Larry Baer and Bruce Bochy came on stage with Miller, who did an impression of Bochy that the Giants manager tolerated. In the space of a couple minutes, Bochy dropped one of his signature lines (“I’ll say this”) twice, a little bit of foreshadowing. Baer actually dropped an amusing anecdote, how during one of the NLCS games in St. Louis a fan told Baer that he and his buddy had a case of Budweiser riding on this bet — “Are you Hunter Pence’s father?”
The introductions concluded with narrator Benjamin Bratt (whose last name Miller pronounced like the sausages you’d find in Milwaukee) telling the crowd how after taking a picture with a fan, the fan’s friend looked at the photo and said, “Man, this isn’t Angel Pagan!”
The beginning gives quick mention to the 2010 World Series and how the team looked in Scottsdale, then moves through the obvious regular season highlights. I’m not quite sure I agree with the implied point of SFGate’s review that the movie skimped on the details of Melky Cabrera’s 50-game suspension. There’s no reason to mention the word “testosterone” in a celebratory World Series movie, especially since the audience for such a film already knows all the specifics. There’s a time and a place for Outside the Lines, and in this film PED chatter would’ve been more awkward than a game of footsies between Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.
From there, the movie focuses on the Giants’ postseason run full of comeback stories, Marco Scutaro hits and flying sunflower seeds. That’s where the movie really takes off, as the filmmakers play with the up-and-down emotional dynamics of the Giants’ improbably comeback story, with some of the best points coming during the handshake line after nearly every win. There was something unique about each postgame celebration: a Gregor Blanco yelp, a comment from Jeremy Affeldt to Barry Zito, and many more instances you’d never see or hear on Fox.
Each time, the extra access showed what every fan hopes for in their favorite team — that the active participants care as much about winning as the ones who will buy this movie.
And if I get too far off track throughout this review, let it be certain: if you were already considering doing so, I highly recommend purchasing 2012 San Francisco Giants: The Official World Series Film.
Sights and sounds
It may have been because I was overwhelmed from my front row vantage point, but the visual and sound editing sure seemed impressive. San Francisco and AT&T Park provide a beautiful backdrop, especially during in October, and MLB Productions took full advantage with their camera work both on the field and from the sky. Bratt was excellent as the narrator — it’s pretty easy to forget that the guy from Law and Order is speaking. Another nice touch — how MLB mixed in interviews with the Detroit Tigers and sound clips from both the local guys (Miller, Dave Flemming, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper) and the national broadcasts.
Rags comes up huge
A significant portion of the film was build on one-on-one interviews with players and coaches. Sort of like the “confessionals” you’ll see during reality shows like Survivor and The Real World, but decidedly less controversial. That led to one of the only parts of this film that I would deem curious — the prominent role played by Pence. Sure, he was a scintillating combination of Ray Lewis and Chris Farley when the Giants’ backs were against the wall, but he was only with the team for a few months and didn’t play particularly well.
The filmmakers were clearly blown away by Pence’s articulate descriptions of his teammates’ qualities and what brought this group together, because he was shown considerably more than any other Giant. I was expecting a lot more from Sergio Romo, who can spin a yarn and is featured prominently on the cover. Romo’s rise to full-time closer is documented, but his one-on-one moments were few and far between.
The under-the-radar star of this film is pitching coach Dave Righetti, who provides some of the most interesting comments throughout the film. I won’t spoil anything, but his thoughts on Brian Wilson, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner were quite illuminating.
Speaking of spoilers…
The best part of the movie comes during the finishing credits, when Scutaro, Pagan, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Jeremy Affeldt do their best impressions of Pence’s famous “Reverend” speeches. But you already knew that because MLB released the clip.
The Castro Theatre crowd was enthusiastic throughout the screening, cheering for their heroes and laughing at the lighter moments. When the film focused on the high point of the season, somewhere midway through their seven-game winning streak to finish the season, Bochy’s voice intoned: “I’ll tell you this, the club’s playing well.” The crowd cracked up at a perfectly Bochesque understatement.
Rainy Day Fun
Rain is one of the gentler ways we’re reminded of nature’s existence, and preciptation played a prominent role in the Giants’ postseason story, with the legendary downpour during the 9th inning of Game 7 of the NLCS and precipitation adding ambiance to the World Series clincher.
The postseason was a whirlwind, and after the parade I felt a mixture of exhaustion and withdrawal that’s probably familiar to many of the people who plan on buying the World Series film.
I had decided to walk the mile or so to the premiere from my apartment, and halfway there it started sprinkling. I realized I didn’t even consider bringing an umbrella — whoops, oh well. Of course, when the movie concluded and I walked outside, it was full-on raining, not sprinkling. Instead of running or catching a cab, I walked at a normal speed, looked up in the air like Scutaro and soaked in the moment. Maybe it took watching that movie, to not only get closure but realize exactly what we’ve watched and how lucky Scutaro and the Giants were. How lucky we’ve been to witness this story. It’s a story worth retelling, and San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series Film does an exceptional job.