Do you remember the movie where Michael Keaton (sometimes known as Batman) was desperately rooting for the Boston Red Sox to win the 1986 World Series, while Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man’s living embodiment) was pulling for the New York Mets?
You’re not alone.
Not many people saw “Game 6″, the movie, when it appeared in theaters in March 2006. This extremely low budget film (both actors took salaries of only $100 per day, far below what they usually command) was dumped in the early part of the year, during the dead of winter, which is usually a graveyard for movies, especially ones with a baseball theme.
Set on the night of Saturday, October 25, 1986, the picture – written by best selling author Don DeLillo, and directed by Michael Hoffman – follows a nervous, pessimistic, and neurotic playwright named Nicky Rogan (Keaton) who has a play opening on Broadway the same night as Game Six of the 1986 World Series. Nicky isn’t that confident about the success of his play, and is less so about the chances of his beloved Boston Red Sox, despite the fact that they are poised to win the series that night at Shea Stadium.
Robert Downey, Jr. plays a powerful theater critic, whose reviews can make or break a production. He is assigned to cover Keaton’s play on Opening night. Keaton’s character – desperate to the point of lunacy – decides that the best option would be to kill Downey’s character that night, stopping him from writing about the show. The playwright skips his own opening to sit in a seedy theater district bar, fortifying himself with alcohol while watching game six on the television.
A stellar supporting cast, including Griffin Dunne, Catherine O’Hara, Roger Rees, Harris Yulin and Bebe Neuwirth, help to give the film some dramatic balance and comic touches, but it’s the performances of the two leads that drives this film.
Keaton, who was rarely making appearances by then, utilizes a restrained version of his razor’s edge maniacal on screen persona, as seen in films like “Batman”, “BeetleJuice” and “Gung Ho.”
Both actors were at a crossroad in their respective careers and had nothing to lose, so they gave this independent film their all.
The very best scenes happen at the end when – spoiler alert – (as if you haven’t heard about an almost thirty year old baseball game’s results by now) the Mets come back from the brink to defeat the Red Sox with a two out, last inning miracle finish to force a game seven.
If it hadn’t happened in real life and DeLillo wrote it just for the screen, nobody would have believed it.
Keaton’s character, shaken by the loss and inebriated, leaves the bar and tracks Downey’s character from the theater to his apartment, intending to murder him. When he arrives, he discovers that Downey has been rooting for the Red Sox all along and is just as brokenhearted. The two men then spend the rest of the night together, drowning their sorrows in liquor while watching the replay of Mookie Wilson’s ground ball going through Bill Buckner’s legs over and over again.
The movie was made for less than a million (almost impossible to do, especially with name talent) but still faied to recoup.
Interestingly, the 2014 Oscar winning Best Picture, “Birdman”, which also starred Keaton (who was nominated for Best Actor, losing in a tight race to Eddie Redmayne) shares themes and locations with “Game 6″, as both take place in the confined world of New York’s Broadway Theater district, and center around a frazzled, neurotic Keaton dealing with the power of critics to make or break his show.
Keaton and Downey, Jr. have yet to reunite on screen, so “Game 6″ will have to stand as the closest thing to a DC/Marvel matchup as we will get for a while.
Click below to watch the “Game 6″ trailer: