Review by John Delia
You really donâ€™t have to be a sports fan or a baseball nut to enjoy the documentary Screwball, but it helps. Back in the day baseball players wanted to be like Babe Ruth who in 1927 hit 60 home runs in one season of baseball. Or how about Roger Maris who broke the Babeâ€™s record in 1962 hitting 61 in one season. Both players will always be remembered for their feat, but not so today knowing that others have put more across the fence including Sammy Sosa who hit 66 and Mark McGwire 70 both in 1998, a spectacular feat. But there was one more to come in 2001 when Barry Bonds hit 73 and still holds the record.
Why do I tell you all this? Well the movie Screwball will tell it all about the beasts of baseball that had a lot of help from performance enhancing drugs. Its muscle building medicine that was not even known to exist in Babe Ruth and Roger Marisâ€™s days at the plate.
Now why the intro you say? Well the documentary turns the baseball world upside down and shakes it so all the pocket change falls to the ground into view. Is the documentary necessary or even of any value at this point since the awards have been given to those who enhanced their abilities over ones who tried for the records without the aid of drugs?
This is one of those â€œyou be the judgeâ€ films and frankly only for information and entertainment at this point I sports history. But, are the players living up to the rules and laws of the sport since the expose and following fines, embarrassment and denigration by the press and fans?
Then thereâ€™s the guys and gals who made the money from the introduction and the sale of the enhancing drugs to the popular baseball stars. People like Tony Bosch who in 2007 and living in Miami was a self-proclaimed Bio-Hacker, Biochemist, Molecular Medicine Specialist, Peptide Expert, Functional Medicine Expert, Integrative Medicine, Nutritional Expert and Sports Performance Scientist. He ran up a small business into a multi-million dollar industry. And he claims his steroid shots were for anti-ageing. The ads threw out terms like â€œbioidentical hormone replacement therapyâ€, â€œrestore natural balance for peak performance with HGH (Human Growth Hormone) therapyâ€, and â€œHGH replacementâ€ to quote the film.
Of course you had to have the unwitting and willing perpetrators of the steroid taking ballers named in the film, like Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Danny Tartabull, Lenny Harris, Pete Rose, Fred McGriff, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and the list goes on. Some may say that if it werenâ€™t for these sluggers baseball may have faded into nonexistence as they drew huge crowds to the ballpark. And others may say that the players risked their lives to do so by taking the steroids. But, you have to wonder if the players salary would have not made them millionaires without the enhancing drugs, like Ramirezâ€™s 45 million dollar 2 year contract that was signed in 2009.
And then thereâ€™s the â€œheroesâ€ who unwrapped the package so to speak and unveiled the conspiracy of the players to inject their way into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Like Jerome Hill an investigator for the Florida Department of Health and Tim Elfrink Editor of the Miami New Times. And of course the federal government in a speech by President George W. Bush in January of 2004 about the use of steroids in sports. But the most damaging is The Mitchell Report thatâ€™s cited in the film and the list goes on. Oh, and then thereâ€™s this guy named Porter Fisher who was out for revenge.
The documentary is not only a rehash of the news about the enhancing substance and its tie with baseball, but an eye opener on how vast the problem was in the 1980â€™s. The film even intimates the profits that may have been obtained from the use of enhancing drugs for both perpetrators, doctors and stadium seat fillers for team owners. Big money for the price of shame. The way the documentary gets presented is very entertaining and not one of the dull long historical type. Screwballâ€™s a critical film and a thought provoking one presented in a unique way and it’s really worth watching.
Screwball has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains language. I enjoyed the way the film was presented with young kids who become the avatars for the baseball players, the rich perpetrators and the famous. I was not pleased however, that the youngsters had to mouth a lot of swear words though. And, you may find that writer director Billy Corben uses a good measure of poetic license to â€œnaturally enhanceâ€ his film.
FINAL ANALYSIS: For baseball sports fans and those that are interested in how the steroid scandal came about. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Tony Bosh (avatar Bryan Blanco), Porter Fisher (avatar Frankie Diaz), Peter Carbone (avatar Jonathan Blanco), Gary Jones ( avatar Jake Martin), Tim Elfrink (avatar Ian Mackles),
Cast additional avatars: Blake McCall as Alex Rodriguez, Jake Stephens as Ricky Rodriguez, Davion Figaro as Manny Ramirez, and Andrew Koch as Ed Maldonado
Directed by: Billy Corben
Written by: Billy Corben and David Cypkin
Genre: Documentary, Comedy
MPAA Rating: Not rated, contains language
Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.
Opening Date: March 29, 2019
Distributed by: Greenwich Entertainment
Released in: Standard