anger in the Bible
Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer
Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
How can I tell if I’m getting addicted to pornography or sex? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
|Featuring:||Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Andre Holland, Ann Whitney, Ellary Porterfield, Jaime Tirelli, Jose Rijo, Michael Gaston, See all »|
|Director:||Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck|
|Producer:||Journeyman Pictures, Hunting Lane Films, Gowanus Projections, HBO Films, See all »|
What boy (and perhaps many girls) doesn’t grow up tying the leather strings of his baseball glove, striking a pose on an imaginary pitcher’s mound, winding up and hurling a baseball as fast as it can be thrown to strike out a friend or neighbor? However, in their mind, the batter is not a neighborhood kid, the batter going down swinging is Sammy Sosa, Derek Jeter or Manny Ramirez. This universal dream is the dream of Miguel “Sugar” Santos as told in the movie “Sugar.”
“Sugar” tells the story of 19 year-old Miguel “Sugar” Santos, a pitcher from the Dominican Republic who has his dreams of pitching for a US baseball team realized when he is recruited to pitch for a minor league Kansas City team. The film follows him through the highs and lows of the season and his struggles both on and off the pitching mound. Not only do we watch his struggles as a player, questioning his own abilities, but we also watch him struggle to adapt to life in a new country and all the pitfalls that a new environment and culture bring with it.
From “Bull Durham” to “The Natural,” there have been many films that have attempted to show the day to day life of a major league baseball player, all to varying degrees of success. “Sugar” does a wonderful job at displaying what it must be like for someone to go through the struggles as a player for a major league baseball franchise.
A highlight of the film is when “Sugar” ends up on a farm team in Iowa and is put up in the home of a family willing to let ballplayers stay in their house. The family is quite cordial and make “Sugar” feel welcome. Though it is never explicitly stated, it is apparent through the few ‘house rules’ (i.e., “no drinking” or “bringing women into the house”) that this family practices a clean, wholesome lifestyle. It’s when their grand-daughter invites “Sugar” to a home-based Bible study that we realize that this family is Christian. The family is never depicted as being overtly preachy or condemning, they offer him more advice about the accuracy of his curveball than they do in getting him to go to church or read the Bible. The depiction is honest, and it is clear there is a mutual admiration between “Sugar” and this family, and this family truly cares about him.
Though the movie is written and directed by the same team (Ryan Fleck and Anne Boden) that produced “Half-Nelson,” the film is almost a 180-degree turn from that film, as far the nature of the story. Let me state that I was among the minority (as far as Christian audiences) that found Dan (Ryan Gosling) Dunne’s story of a teacher struggling with drugs and dependency very engaging. ‘Half-Nelson,’ though very realistic in its portrayal of drug dependency, contained some very uncomfortable content and subject matter, which I would submit was the whole point of that film. However, if you were put off by his struggles in ‘Half-Nelson’ let it not be a reason to avoid this film. The struggles that “Sugar” contends with are far less challenging, and the whole nature of the film is more uplifting.
There is not a lot of objectionable material in the version of the film that I saw when it was released theatrically in June with a “PG-13” rating. It is listed on various Web sites as having both an “R” version and “PG-13” version, however the version available for sale is rated “PG-13,” and, based on the content, that rating is pretty accurate.
The material that audiences will find most objectionable is the profanity. Most of the film is subtitled, so audience members get to read the words they may not understand in Spanish, and a handful of them are expletives. There are a couple utterances of the ‘F’ word and a handful of other profane words. Most of the references to God are done respectfully, such as the Catholic tradition of many ball players to cross their chests and motion to the heavens. As mentioned earlier, there is a depiction of a Christian family that most Christian audiences will find endearing, if not totally refreshing.
Part of the culture that “Sugar” is exposed to as a “stranger in a strange land” is the prevalent attitude in this country towards sex. One of these ‘cultural awakenings’ occurs when he is in a motel room with his teammates, and they are watching a ‘porno’ on the TV. Though nothing is shown, the audience does hear the moans emanating from the picture tube. There is a brief scene of a couple, fully clothed, making out. There is also a scene (typical of most movies dealing with athletes) where we see the team showering, and, in the background, we briefly see a man’s rear end. The only violence in the movie occurs during a minor skirmish between players on the baseball field.
Ryan Gosling earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of teacher Dan Dunne in “Half-Nelson.” It would be surprising (and a bit upsetting) if first time actor Algenis Perez Soto were not likewise nominated for his multifaceted and realistic portrayal of pitcher Miguel “Sugar” Santos. In his role, Soto paints a very broad and charismatic character that is hard not to cheer for.
“Sugar” provides a rare glimpse into the lives of ball players in a profession that many dream about but few actually experience. One does not need to be a huge baseball fan to empathize with Sugar’s story, however those that are will not only find themselves enjoying a great film, but come out with more of an appreciation for this American tradition.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.