Screwball is a new documentary film directed by Billy Corben. The movie tells the story of Anthony Bosch, an unlicensed doctor and former operator of the Biogenesis health clinic that was involved in a major doping scandal in the MLB that included such players as Alex Rodriguez. It debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews.
Even if you aren’t typically interested in sports or sports-related stories, it would be hard not to find the story at the core of this film to be fascinating if only because it is so unbelievable. The fact that something this widespread was able to sneak past attention for so long is absolutely shocking and entertaining to watch.
The movie does a very good job of introducing the subjects of the documentary and highlighting their humanity. Even Bosch, who was doing some things that are shady and despicable, is presented in a way in which he could be the protagonist of this story. However, perhaps most interesting about the film’s treatment of its subjects is the way in which it presents Rodriguez without caring about dividing the audience.
The movie’s ultimate message is a positive one — hard work is the only real way to achieve success. Everyone in the film who tries to take a shortcut to make money, from Bosch attending medical school out of the country to the athletes using performance enhancing drugs, earns their fate. This movie shows that sometimes the nice guy (or at least the guy who plays by the rules) does win.
The film is presented as a “true-crime comedy” because of the more ridiculous aspects of the story. The pacing of the movie is consistently quick, so it is easy to get wrapped up in the film’s world. Even though the runtime is an hour and forty-five minutes, it feels like much less simply because of how much fun it is to watch.
That being said, the most intriguing part of this movie is its use of reenactments. The story is told through firsthand accounts by some of the people involved in the story, along with reenactments. However, instead of using look-alikes, the film uses children to represent the people in the story. This adds another layer of humor and weirdness to the movie, and somehow, it works.
On a technical level, the film is mostly very strong. The beginning is a bit sudden, and there are a few cuts here and there, but otherwise, the movie looks great. The cinematography during the interviews and reenactments is great. Additionally, some of the film’s editing techniques, like using an animated baseball card to introduce every new interviewee and subject, are able to draw you into the movie even more.
Overall, Screwball was a very impressive and entertaining documentary. Because of an interesting story and creative execution, the film ends up being extremely memorable.
Screwball is now playing in select theaters and is available on VOD beginning April 5.