The Natural (1984)

I have been focused on the films leaving HBO Max at the end of the month, because, this is too easy of a source for the DailyView. Each month, I check over the list so I know what I need to see. There were not too many films on the list leaving on June 30th, but there were a couple. One of which was the baseball classic, The Natural.

Although I had never seen the movie The Natural, with Robert Redford, all the way through, I have seen the iconic moment at the very end of the movie, the one with the lights. So I went into the movie with a spoiler knowledge of the movie. However, everything that led up to that scene was new for me.

Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) was a young pitching phenom on his way for a try-out with the Chicago Cubs when he was shot by a woman (Barbara Hersey). Years later, a grizzled Roy Hobbs showed up to the New York Knights with a contract to play right field. At first, his manager Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) wanted no part of the old rookie, but, after seeing Hobbs hit with the bat that he had made himself, he changed his mind.

There was a sub plot involving a character named The Judge (Robert Prosky) who had something in the contract stating he could fully buy the team if they did not win the pennant (a very A League of Their Own vibe). There was some kind of conflict with The Judge and Pop that the film does not really go into details on.

That would be one of the biggest issues I had with The Natural. There are so many plot points that are either mentioned, hinted at or implied that it makes the whole story weaker. I loved the baseball scenes. They were all great and brought some solid suspense and tension to the movie. However, there was not much explained.

The film certainly implied that there was some kind of supernatural power going on. Something about the bat Hobbs had made out of the tree from his old farm that had been struck by lightning. The lightning bolt symbol is implied to have helped another player magically when he started to wear it. However, none of this is more than just a hint.

Glenn Close played Iris, the girl Hobbs proposed to before he left for the try-out, and she showed back up later in the season to help break him out of a slump. A slump that was apparently caused by him dating Kim Basinger.

After he was shot by Barbara Hersey, we do not know where he was or what had happened to him for 16 years. The shooting was such a shock in the film, but played almost nothing for the film. The film tosses aside a bit of details about the woman targeting other top athletes, shooting them with a silver bullet. This led to a health issue stemming from the shooting that made little sense as well.

This feels too much like a fantasy, maybe the whole thing is Roy Hobbs’s dying delusion after being shot and left on the floor of the hotel room. That makes almost more sense than the story that they presented.

If the film just stuck to the baseball bits, this would not have been bad, but the story surrounding the baseball in The Natural was so disjointed and messy that it is terribly inconsistent. The movie does have some moments, but it is such a jumble that it becomes unnatural.

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