After reading the less than glowing review of Open Road, I felt like it was time to share my thoughts on a baseball movie that's actually quite good. The movie is called Sugar and is about a young Dominican pitcher trying to make it to the Majors while dealing with a multitude of issues. It's definitely one of the best baseball movies of all time. Don't believe me? Well, let me try and convince you after the jump.
Sugar tells the tale of Miguel Santos (ably played by future star Algenis Perez Soto) aka "Sugar." He's a solid prospect for a fictional Kansas City franchise, working out of their facility in the Dominican Republic. On weekends, he goes home to his village where he's a bona fide celebrity. In front of the crowds and some of his friends, Sugar displays a hearty confidence and relishes his stardom, but behind the scenes with his family and girlfriend, he's just another young, vulnerable kid who wants to provide a better life for those he loves.
The filmmakers made a fantastic decision in presenting a side of the baseball world that is rarely seen. Aided by superb performances from every principal actor, it's impossible to not become fully engrossed in the story. We're right there with Sugar as he goes from the Dominican, to Spring Training, and then to Single-A ball in Iowa.
His journey takes many surprising turns and we learn a lot about the struggles that come with being a minor leaguer, especially one who can barely speak the language of the country. The cultural differences between the DR and Iowa are of course numerous, but Sugar soon partially adapts. One of the more touching moments of the film occurs when Sugar attempts to order eggs at a local diner.
As Bill Simmons said in his review, the film is "deeply affecting" and "brilliantly executed." Even if I wasn't a baseball fan, I still would love this movie. It is a smart and thought-provoking film. I emphatically place it in the elite group of Best Baseball Movies, right there with The Bad News Bears, The Sandlot, Bull Durham, and Major League.