A home run of a baseball doc.
Yogi Berra was the baseball player, who was ridiculed for having a cartoonish appearance with his face and height (5’7), that he field name inspired the Hanna-Barbara cartoon “Yogi Near.” Of course, they couldn’t win the lawsuit against the animation team, because the player never legalized his name. In fact, it was even his real name. His was Lawrence Peter Berra.
But we should never judge a book by its cover, because Yogi proved to be a lot more than what the media insulted him on. He became a legend, who won 10 World Series rings (more than anyone has ever won), served in the Navy during WWII, and made a name for himself in the Yankees as a player and later as a coach.
The new baseball documentary “It Ain’t Over” wants to remind fans of his greatness. I took my father to see it at a special Sony Pictures Classics screening in the Monmouth Arts program, and we both enjoyed. He enjoyed it more than I did, because he is a bigger baseball fan than I ever was, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t see the true colors inside. It’s about what made him a player, and what made him an icon.
He had a wife named Carmen and three sons. He also had product endorsements and appeared in commercials for Yoo-Hoo, Visa, and Wheaties, among many others. And he had the likability, whether or not he won the most World Series rings.
Even though I didn’t get all the jokes, I still was able to find some laughs, especially the way the movie compares famous philosophers’ quotes to Yogi-ism. The quotes included “It ain’t over ’till it’s over,” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” and “It’s deja-vu all over again.”
Among the issues, he had in his life, he sparked a 14-year feud with George Steinbrenner, who fired him as Yankees manager in the 1985 season. Yogi retaliated by vowing to never return to Yankee Stadium for as long as Steinbrenner was there. And eventually when he opened a museum in honor of his lifetime achievements, Yogi finally received the apology from Steinbrenner.
This NJ legend has been overlooked, but still managed to prove to everyone of his worth, not only as a celebrity, but also a friend. He loved his family, he loved his fans, and he just loved living life for what it can be through his perspective. Writer/director Sean Mullen (“Amira & Sam,” “Kings of Beer”) presents “It Ain’t Over” with consistent laughs, baseball nostalgia, truthful characteristics, and a big heart all around.
Seeing this doc with my dad is one of the best experiences of my life, because it made him happy and it made me happy, too.
Playing This Friday in The New York Tristate Area and Los Angeles