Stealing Home (1988)

Synopsis:

An ex-baseball player (Mark Harmon, The Presidio) returns home after he finds out that his first love (Jodie Foster, The Accused) has committed suicide. The unexpected death of the woman forces the troubled man to re-examine his life.

Reaction & Thoughts:

I would describe the film as ’80s answer to Summer of ’42 (1971). Stealing Home attempted to do for baby-boomers what the popular 1971 movie did for the greatest generation; a bittersweet reminiscence of days long gone. It’s primarily a coming-of-age tale, beautiful to look at, but, unfortunately, without much depth or feeling.

Stealing Home was co-written & co-directed by Steven Kampmann and William Porter. The film is composed of a series of vignettes that work well enough individually, but together they fail to generate the kind of emotional wallop that hits you right in the heart. More important, the main character’s suicide, which it’s never explained and makes no sense whatsoever, feels like a manufactured plot device.

It pains me to say this, but I thought Jodie Foster was all wrong for the leading female character. I love Foster — she’s a great actor — but I never accepted her in the pivotal role of Harmon’s object of affection. Foster is too grounded, too intelligent to be effective as a flaky free-spirited woman (Daryl Hannah would have been perfect).

Mark Harmon is good, but his character was poorly written. What makes him tick? It’s never clear. I just never understood him.

Those were the negatives. As for the pluses, the film’s soundtrack includes many wonderful ’60s songs. The nice incidental music was written by David Foster (St. Elmo’s Fire). Bobby Byrne (Sixteen Candles) was responsible for the lustrous camerawork. Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters), John Shea (Missing), Helen Hunt (As Good as it Gets) and Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water) appear in small roles.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Stealing Home simply fails at what it sets out to accomplish. It’s a case of a movie that “bites off more than it can chew.” It isn’t a terribly bad movie, more like a well-intentioned failure. Color, 98 minutes, Rated PG-13.

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