David Duchovny writes, directs, and stars in the adaptation of his novel, Bucky F*cking Dent, about a father dying of cancer in 1978.
The film is more of a baseball-adjacent movie than being an outright baseball movie. It’s probably unlikely to become one of the films airing on MLB Network’s regular rotation. That’s not to say anything about the quality of the film but again, it’s more baseball-adjacent in its storytelling. There’s enough heart at its core to draw audiences in and stay engaged. The film’s epilogue–spoiler alert–is a bit heartbreaking but that’s speaking from my own personal perspective without giving away the ending. I’ll have more on that later on. But despite the heartbreaking moments in the film (it’s about a dying man, after all), there are several moments of laughter.
Duchovny goes behind the camera to direct his second feature, Bucky F*cking Dent, and it’s every bit the home run. I have the novel on hand and will be reading it soon. I wanted my experience going into the film to be fresh and not one where I point out all the differences between film and the source material. Other people are different–sometimes, I’ll read the novels but I just didn’t have enough time during my Tribeca prep this year. I have no doubt that the novel is every but a home run that the film is. There’s enough tears and laughs throughout the film for everyone.
Ted Fullaker (Logan Marshall-Green), who works as a Yankee Stadium vendor, aspires to write the Great American Novel. Life suddenly changes when his father, Marty Fullaker (David Duchovny), is rushed to the hospital. What Ted doesn’t know is that Marty has a terminal cancer diagnosis. Despite their estrangement, Ted reluctantly decides to move in with his dying dad. Marty’s nurse, Mariana (Stephanie Beatriz), has been treating him since the hospital stay, if not earlier. Once the home visits start up for Marty’s yoga sessions, both Ted and Mariana befriend each other. Marty’s mood is one that goes up and down as the Boston Red Sox win or lose. It’s 1978 and they’re on a collision course with the New York Yankees. Ultimately, the Red Sox will finish their season losing to the Yankees in a playoff game because of Bucky Dent hitting a home run.
But before Dent could ever give the Yankees a 3-2 lead on October 2, Ted teams up with Marty’s barbershop friends and Mariana to create the “Fullaker Bubble of Safety.” It means faking a winning streak for the Red Sox in 1978. It’s one of those things that are easier said than done because of what all it entails. At some point, Marty is going to find out and when that happens, there’s no turning back. Anyway, Ted gets his hands on two tickets to the AL East tiebreaker and learns all sorts of things about Marty on the road to Fenway Park. As for what happens on the trip, it’s one of the more emotional aspects of the film.
One of the more interesting subplots of the film starts when Ted is going through Marty’s belongings. He comes across a book, The Doublemint Man, that Marty has been writing. Ted thinks that it’s Marty’s novel but it turns out to actually be his diary. As a result, Ted decides to seek out Eva Gonzalez (Daphne Rubin-Vega). It adds a lot of comedy to the film and keeps the material from getting dark.
I have to say this about the film’s epilogue. It’s a nice way of wrapping up the film and let us in on what’s transpired through the years. However, it’s heartbreaking to watch as a St. Louis Cardinals fan who saw my team fall in four consecutive games. Even though we won in 2006 and 2011, losing in both 2004 and 2013 hurt just as bad. When you’re a baseball fan, you live and die with your team. But I digress.
The film’s cast also includes Howard Cosell’s grandson and New York Mets P.A. announcer, Colin Cosell, as a sports broadcaster.
Anyone who has previously read Bucky F*cking Dent is in a better position that casual moviegoers that might seek this film out because of the cast.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: David Duchovny
CAST: Logan Marshall-Green, David Duchovny, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Beghe, Evan Handler, Santo Fazio, with Daphne Rubin-Vega and Pamela Adlon
Bucky F*cking Dent held its world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Spotlight Narrative section. Grade: 4/5
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