Review: SCREWBALL Is A Wacky And Creative Documentary

FIRST IMPRESSION

Screwball is one of the most entertaining documentaries to come out this year so far, partially because of the creative ways in which it tells its story.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

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.

screwball bosch
Tony Bosch – SCREWBALL – Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.

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.

screwball meeting
An MLB arbitration meeting – SCREWBALL – Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.

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.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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