Screwball recounts Biogenesis scandal

A still of Alex Rodriguez in Screwball. Courtesy of TIFF.

Screwball is an entertaining account of the Biogenesis investigation that took down then-New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez.

Billy Corben’s true-crime dramedy takes a unique approach in telling this story.  Corben opts for children in lieu of adults when it comes to reenactments.  It makes for an hysterical approach to one of the darkest eras of Major League Baseball.

Early on, we learn that Tony Bosch set up shop in Florida because it was the anti-aging capital of America.  It’s “the penis of America” in Bosch’s words.  We don’t just have Bosch here but two other main players, Porter Fischer and Tim Elfrink.  All it took was publishing one article in the Miami New Times.  This article linked many big names to performance-enhancing drugs and the rest is history.

When the film premiered in Toronto last year, it came on the 20th anniversary of Mark McGwire tying Roger Maris with 61 home runs in a single season.  The race would come down to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Due to injuries, Ken Griffey, Jr. couldn’t keep up with the pace.  It was this chase that would revitalize fan interest in the sport.  Because of the 1994 strike, baseball was hurting.  The chase would change everything.  Barry Bonds would look into PEDs as a result.  A would-be Hall of Fame player would lose his chance at joining the Hall as a result.

Following the Barry-Bonds focused BALCO case in 2003, MLB would commission an independent report from former senator George Mitchell.  In December 2007, former senator George Mitchell filed the 409-page The Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball.  Or as we know it: the Mitchell Report.  In 2004, the first 5-7 tests were positive for performance-enhancing drugs.  This results in then-MLB commissioner Bud Selig issuing a call to action.  This leads to the downfall of both Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez.

Meanwhile, the DEA would take a look at Anthony Bosch’s medical clinic in Miami.  The same guy that would treat both Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez.  Bosch opens up about this in a way that only he can.  In late 2012, Porter Fischer would email then-Miami New Times managing editor Tim Elfrink.  Fischer only had one main objective: taking down Anthony Bosch.  A few months later, shit would hit the fan!  Hell, A-Rod would throw teammates under the bus if it would mean taking the focus off of him.

While I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the Biogenesis scandal, the film shines a negative light on Major League Baseball.  To be more specific, Dan Mullin.  In essence, Mullin is responsible for someone breaking into Porter Fischer’s car and stealing evidence from an official investigation.  Did MLB want to rid the world of patient documents?  Who knows.  Is this the documentary that MLB doesn’t want us to see?  It’s quite possible.  In any event, Mullin was let go in 2014.  Good riddance.  Let’s just say that this is the type of film that makes us rethink things we know.  Or thought we know.  I think you get the gist of the idea here.

In utilizing the true-crime dramedy approach, Corben makes the film more entertaining than it should be.  A film like this has no right to be so funny.  Yet we can’t help but find the use of children to be so entertaining!  In all seriousness, there are powerful people that would rather see government investigation disappear.  This is absolutely crazy to say the least!  If I did not hear it while watching this documentary, I would not believe it.  This only speaks to some of the absurdity that took place behind the scenes.

With a hysterically entertaining approach, Screwball is a must-watch documentary for anybody who loves the game of baseball.

DIRECTOR:  Billy Corben
SCREENWRITERS:  Billy Corben & David Cypkin
FEATURING:  Anthony Bosch, Porter Fischer, Tim Elfrink, Jerome Hill, Pedro Gomez, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Bryan Blanco, Frankie Diaz, and Jonathan Blanco

Greenwich Entertainment opens Screwball in select theaters on March 29, 2019. A Digital/VOD release will follow on April 5, 2019.  The film premiered during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the TIFF Docs program. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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