Director Raymond De Felitta’s previous New York-set films, like “City Island” and “Rob the Mob,” have largely been well-received, but the sports drama “Bottom of the 9th“ is as boring as baseball is sometimes accused of being. Odd camera angles and movement make the movie feel like it was directed by a less-seasoned filmmaker, and the script from Robert Bruzio has more fat than would be allowed in a pro athlete’s diet.
Almost two decades ago, Sonny Stano (Joe Manganiello) was headed to the major leagues, but a deadly mistake sent him to prison and derailed his baseball career. When he finally returns home to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, he hopes for a second chance with a minor-league team on Staten Island, and with his ex-girlfriend Angela (Sofía Vergara).
That love story between Vergara’s and Manganiello’s characters could have been cut from the overlong film with little consequence, but there are some sweet moments on-screen between the real-life couple. De Felitta’s film is largely authentic in its Bronx setting — other than ignoring the commute from that borough to a distant Staten Island.
Though it takes far too long to kick into gear, “Bottom of the 9th” does improve as it goes along, becoming less self-serious in its second half. But the upswing can’t vindicate the rest of the film; it may be about redemption, but it’s too little, too late for the movie itself.
Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Playing: Starts AMC Universal CityWalk 19; also on VOD