Bottom of the 9th gives us a film that seeks to tell us the classic redemption story while placing it in the wide world of baseball.
When we first meet Sonny Stano (Joe Manganiello), he’s playing a baseball game in prison. While we don’t know how he got there, what we do know is that he can hit the ball. He certainly could have had a nice big league career ahead of him. But for Stano, his career was over well before it started. Two decades later, Stano is out of the joint and trying to get his life back together. This may be easier said than done and he’ll certainly get the film-appropriate road blocks along the way.
What makes Bottom of the 9th so interesting is Sonny’s need to bury his talent. If he didn’t land in prison, Sonny could have possibly ended up in Cooperstown. I’m not saying that this would have definitely happened but you never know with such raw young talent. What we see in the film’s early minutes shows Sonny’s potential behind the plate. As Sonny enters himself back into the world, he’s in this different place. He wants to move on from this old life of us but as is the case with anyone, it’s certainly not going to come easy.
Yet Sonny won’t have much of a choice if he wants to get back together with his former flame, Angela Ramirez (Sofía Vergara). Sonny has to find a way to realize that he can’t be who he is without playing baseball. It doesn’t matter that he lost 19 years of his life for one wrong decision. Sonny simply can’t be the person that Angela needs without playing baseball. People have that one thing in life that gives them a purpose or meaning. For Sonny, this one thing is baseball. It’s really this simple. It’s because of this that non-sports fans might find an interest in the film.
Robert Bruzio’s script focuses on this idea of a redemption. What does a person need in order to move on but still be able to accept their past? The film may play a bit too slow for my liking but there’s a deeper meaning here. There’s this idea here about this inner need to pursue dreams. What happens when we start pulling away?
This film has some of the things you look for in baseball movies. Or any sports movies, for that reason. In particular, the film’s score starts making callbacks in its own way to The Natural. Every film does this but one has to be playing close attention to catch it. It’s one of the main ways that the film gets you to feel in a certain way during a sports movie.
Bottom of the 9th probably might not become a baseball movie classic but there’s a story of redemption that might appeal to non-sports fans.
DIRECTOR: Raymond De Felitta
SCREENWRITER: Robert Bruzio
CAST: Joe Manganiello, Sofía Vergara, Michael Rispoli, and Denis O’Hare