Joe Kharma Movie Review – “Field of Dreams”

#16 – Field of Dreams

With the immortal words, “If you build it, he will come” this sentimental, Capra-esque film was elevated into the stratosphere of fabled film history.  But a mere earthly mortal such as Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) spends the first part of the film wondering what that voice wanted him to build, and then most of the rest wondering who ‘he’ is.  Even though clues abound throughout the film, it takes poor Ray the better part of the film to realize he certainly has daddy issues.  Traveling through the folksy innards of baseball Americana with the likes of Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), a bitter retired ‘60’s activist, and Doc Graham (Burt Lancaster), a wise old country doctor who once dreamed of baseball fame, certainly gives this quest added flavor and dimension.

But in the end, two other characters, one real, and the other…a dream(?), offer him the support and clues necessary to direct him towards the destiny the voice intends for him.  His wife Annie (Amy Madigan) with genuine care and concern for him and his mental health, offers all the support she possibly can, even if their farm is about to be repossessed during his absence (because ‘the voice’ told him to build a baseball field, resulting in their corn crop being plowed under).  And even though she doesn’t hear ‘the voice’ for herself.  Yes, the quest must go on, no matter the consequences!

The other character, an historic icon conjured up from one of baseball’s darker moments, Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), provides the last set of clues, coaching him past third base towards the home plate of his heartfelt quest.  Ironically and literally (but certainly on purpose) behind that home plate is Ray’s dad, John (Dwier Brown), a baseball catcher in his youth who never made it to the majors.  This is all set up by the fact that Shoeless Joe was John’s hero, and Ray never forgave his dad for admiring a cheater.  But before Ray could take it back, his dad up and died on him, when Ray was still young.

Yes, even with all the baseball metaphors, characters and situations, this is not at all a baseball movie, but a varied, sometimes simple, sometimes complex, tapestry that plays out the inner drama Ray barely realizes haunts his soul.  But once he is re-introduced to his father of old (when he was young), Ray has a different take on who his dad was and who he has become because of his absence.

This is a reconciliation film that can strike the heart strings of even the toughest of men, especially at the closing scene when Ray’s new voice searches for that final connection with his dad, replacing the voice driving his actions throughout the film, “Hey…dad, you wanna have a catch?”  And yes, did they ever, as those same tough men, quite cognizant of the complexities that make up the father/son relationship, wiped away tears in theaters all across the country when this film was released in 1989, and who have continued to do so ever since.

Joe’s Kharmic Scale – Exceptional

Joe’s Kharmic Scale

Exceptional Kharma

Superior Kharma

Mediocre Kharma

Dire Kharma

Unspeakable Kharma