“There’s no crying in baseball!” “I loved you in The Wizard of Oz!” “Alice, you’re killing me!”* Yep, A League of Their Own is a great baseball movie. Nope, I am not through with sports writing yet. We aren’t writing about sports this week, but we are going to look for a bit at screenplays and films, and yes, sports again, before we get to the writing part.
If you watch it long enough, the novelty of watching Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell play baseball wears off, and you start watching a baseball movie. Just like Hoosiers, The Replacements, and Bull Durham, we get to see a team overcome all the quirky personalities and on-field injuries, plus other obstacles (short skirts, a drunk manager who pees and spits a lot, and absent crowds) to become a real team. It’s a legit film about sports. Well, almost.
About three-fifths of the way into the film, the powers-that-be, in my opinion, decided to completely forget what it was about this story that made it great. It was as if they said, “Oh, wait, there are women watching this movie. We need to make it a GIRL movie.” And so they injected a bunch of ridiculous girl drama** into it, totally ruining everything. I can’t even watch it after a certain point. Sure, husbands died in the war, and sisters fought. But the best part of this movie, like any sports movie, was about the ballgames. The other sports movies remembered that. Sure, ALOTO ends with a game, sort of, but it turns into a girly sob fest in the process—a sob fest that irks me. I get disappointed every time I watch it. It’s such a shame that the writers/producers/directors did not stay true to the film through to the end. Why imply that women can’t work out their issues for the good of the team, unlike the boys and men in all of the other films I mentioned above? Nope, Kit just couldn’t shut up and stand on her own, despite her sister’s larger talent, and Dottie couldn’t succeed despite the family rivalry—girl drama wins out and costs them the championship, and we get a let-down instead of a just a hard-fought loss. Bleh.
Today’s Writing Exercise:
I promised that this was not another sports writing exercise, and it isn’t. It’s about bad endings. Have you ever read something you really enjoyed, only to get to the end, just to find disappointment? Yep, me too, and it happens with things that I write, too. I find some of my writing taking off in strange, uncontrollable directions. I can’t steer it where I want it to go. That’s usually a sign I need to put it down and wait until I am ready to move on in a more productive way, and lots of times, it just sits there. If you have something unfinished sitting around waiting for you to finish it, time to pull it out. Finish it with a bang—or a whisper, but a provocative or powerful one.
If you don’t have a piece that fits that description, then think about something else you have read that, in your opinion, has a terrible ending. How could you improve it? Rewrite the ending to make it better.
*For a girl movie, Tom Hanks sure gets most of the good lines, doesn’t he?
**Before you get outraged at the fact that I called girl drama ridiculous, relax. It isn’t always ridiculous. It’s just ridiculous as used in this instance. I love a good girl book or chick flick. My favorite? That’s a blog for another day!