Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino (2004)
Directed by George Roy

You know that stock comedy scenario wherein the beer-swillin', sports-lovin' guy gets caught by his girlfriend watching a nudie flick on cable, and much hilarious stammering ensues? Well, in my household, we have the same situation, except it's when my girlfriend walks in suddenly and catches me watching a sports documentary.

I don't watch sports at all, but for whatever reason, I absolutely love sports documentaries, perhaps because they provide the context I otherwise lack. I'd rather not spend five hours a week watching games … I'll wait five years and get the whole season recapped for me in one convenient "classic sports" doc. Or better yet, I'll wait ten years and get the whole decade recapped for me. This leaves me, in the meantime, many more hours to obsessively download Prince bootlegs.

HBO's Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino has to be the most heartfelt and human sports doc ever. Instead of focusing on staggering athletic achievements or unbeatable odds or whatever, this one tells the tale from the fans' perspective, which in this case is the most relevant set of eyes to peer through.

The story goes, the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees and cursed themselves to lose through all eternity – and indeed, until 2004, they never won a World Series again, often for reasons that seemed downright bizarre (the film devotes much time to dissecting the emotional fallout of poor Bill Buckner's missed easy-catch in '86). ROTCOTB recounts the many foibles of the ball club, with interviewees ranging from sports journalists to diehard BoSox fans like Denis Leary and Steven Wright.

What makes the film remarkable is the consistent capture of specific emotional moments, as Sox fans go back to the various moments where they witnessed some devastating loss, and each of them remembers it like it was yesterday. Edited together, these anecdotes provide a real feel for just how pitifully difficult it's been to be a Sox fan all these years.

Also notable is the astute writing, which isn't afraid to point out that the selling of Babe Ruth may not have been as much a curse as the Red Sox's resistance for many years to hire any colored players. After all, everyone knows that the dark ones can sure hit that pigskin!

The film culminates with footage and commentary on the BoSox's '04 World Series win (which I did not watch, so I'm glad I got the Cliffs Notes version given to me in a few minutes here); this is inspiring and uplifting after hearing about all the craziness that befell the team (and fans) throughout the years. This whole tale may be old-hat to sports fans, but to closet sports fans like myself, it was front-page news, baby.

Review by Mr. Benefits