The Twilight Zone, or something very like it, in Iowa. A disembodied voice, more precisely a stereophonic and cyclonic whisper, prevails on a transplanted city man (Kevin Costner) to carve a baseball field out of the cornstalks — and onto it come "the great Shoeless Joe Jackson" (batting from the wrong side of the plate) and assorted All-Stars of Baseball Heaven. But that isn't the end of it. The voice next sends the man on puzzling missions to Massachusetts and Minnesota. The mystery element in all this gives the movie a certain momentum for a time. And, as the cornfield-turned-ballfield comes into focus as a device to turn back the clock and to revisit the past, it begins to emerge as a workable metaphor of Lost Innocence and Lost Hope. But the components of the mystery do not finally snap into place, and the metaphor becomes increasingly strained, and the tidal wave of treacle at the finish ("Is there a heaven?" "Oh yeah, it's the place dreams come true") could freeze even the mushiest of hearts. The name of the game, aptly enough, turns out not to be baseball but cornball. With Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster; written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson. (1989) — Duncan Shepherd
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