You know the story: Roy Hobbs. ”Wonderboy.” Shattered clock towers and stadium lights. For non-cynics, The Natural is a classic baseball tale. So why did director Barry Levinson make needless changes to his iconic film? It’s ”much closer to the original intention,” he says. Unfortunately, his original intention isn’t as good as his original movie. Levinson adds 20 minutes of mostly extraneous footage — more of Michael Madsen’s lazy star player ”Bump” Baily and (the unbilled) Darren McGavin as conniving bookie Gus — while trimming another 14: The cuts speed the first act, but truncated scenes of young sweethearts Close and Redford lessen the impact when the two are later reunited. A second disc of EXTRAS includes a comprehensive new making-of featuring interviews with key players including Redford and Levinson (though Robert Duvall — who appeared as tenacious sportswriter Max Mercy — is noticeably absent), and a short about real-life ”natural” Eddie Waitkus and his own brush with a gun-toting fan. But where?s the original version? Though it swings for the fences, the disc does no better than a ground-rule double. B-
Posted May 4 2007 — 12:00 AM EDT
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