This 90-minute documentary on the career of Pete Rose, which was released on February 22, 2011 by Rivercoast Films, is certainly a well-told story. Unfortunately it may have been a no-win situation for the producers as this project is inevitably hindered by that which is untold, and ultimately leaves the audience feeling uncomfortable.
One can tell from the start that this is going to be a classic tale told in a simple fashion that harkens back to the summer days spent playing the game that most of us grew up on, yet it is also clear from the start that poor choices will lead to awkward results. JK Simmons is a fine actor and certainly a competent guide on this trip, but the failure to tell the audience who he is and what his connection is with Pete Rose or baseball, be it friend, fan, or just a guy who got paid to be here, starts the head scratching far too soon. What this documentary does have is Pete Rose, and having him there to help tell the story makes all the difference. His insight into himself, his attitudes, and the impact his father had on him, tend to be some of the most illuminating aspects of the production.
Though the soundtrack tries too hard at times to add intensity to the story, the overall production value is excellent. The highlight clips are perfectly intertwined with stories from Pete and others as the career of arguably one of the greatest of all times is played out before our eyes like a perfectly executed double play. The stories and insights from such greats as Mike Schmidt, Tony Perez, and Marty Brennaman, are extremely valuable story, but, the limited amount of commentators leads to questions, and that is ultimately where we knew this project would begin to break down.
Considering the amount of time Pete Rose spent with the Cincinnati Reds, the impact the members of the Big Red Machine had on the sport, and the number of times players such as Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan are mentioned, their absence is glaring. Obviously Pete has a great relationship with Tony Perez, but one cannot help but wonder if his relationships with the other members of the World Championship team have been damaged by his exploits after the story here ends.
So, was it reasonable to try and tell this story without including what happened after he was crowned baseball’s all-time hit king? How extreme can the comparisons get? Could you tell the story of Magic Johnsons basketball career and leave out the fact that he contracted AIDS? Could you tell the story of O.J. Simpson’s football career, and leave out everything else? Is it reasonable to believe that your audience would not expect the rest of the story?
Pete Rose went on to be an effective Manager, and unfortunately was eventually banned from the game he loved and had a major impact on. One can easily say that is not what this story is about. Ultimately it is an incomplete story of the career Pete Rose.
Recommendation: This is a well-made documentary that will be enjoyable for young and old alike. The sound quality is excellent and the overall production value makes this a great piece to watch. It is sure to be inspirational to young ball players yet somehow incomplete to those familiar with the career and life of baseballs Hit King. There is no bonus material included on the DVD.