DVD Review: Knuckleball

STUDIO: FilmBuff/MPI | DIRECTOR: Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg
DVD RELEASE DATE: 4/9/2013 | PRICE: DVD $24.98
BONUSES: featurettes,  deleted scenes, additional interviews
SPECS: NR | 85 min. | Documentary | 1.77:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


A first-rate documentary about what baseball folks deem a “third-rate pitch,” Knuckleball offers a breezy and fascinating look into the world of baseball pitchers who specialize in tossing the unorthodox, often unpredictable pitch called a knuckleball.

The primary focus of the film is on two contemporary knuckle heads: the recently retired Red Sox hurler Tim Wakefield and R.J. Dickey, the much-traveled Cy Young Award winner recently departed from the New York Mets for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Knuckleball movie sceneDirectors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work) do a superb job, using archival footage of such knuckleballers as Phil and Joe Niekro, Charlie Hough, Jim Bouton and Wilbur Wood while keeping tabs on elder statesman Wakefield and journeyman Dickey during the 2011 baseball season wherein each faced various forms of adversity to triumph in their own ways.

What makes Knuckleball a cut above the typical sports docu is the fact the filmmakers get us up close and personal into the pitcher’s lives, interviewing their wives, showing their families and recounting how they decided to adopt the knuckleball as a last chance specialty to live their baseball dreams. Also impressive is the inclusion of footage of Wakefield and Dickey in their formative years and a meeting of the minds that takes place in a hotel in which they convene great knucklers of the past who offers words of wisdom.

Knuckleball, which has already be available as a video-on-demand title, is a must-see for fans of “America’s Pastime,” and timing couldn’t be better for that than right now as the sound of “Play Ball” is upon us

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.