Local filmmakers David Cypkin and Alfred Spellman, the duo behind the classic South Florida documentary Square Grouper, are at it again with SCREWBALL, a Miami-focused baseball movie about fraud and dishonesty that somehow isn’t about the Marlins.As a supporter of local art, I watched the film last night, and cannot convey to the viewers my disappointment with the film. The story was, in my opinion, ill-conceived and not worth the $3.99 I spent on the title. Luckily for Mssrs. Cypkin and Spellman, I had inadvertently watched a movie called “Screwball: The Ted Whitfield Story”, which was the first thing that came up on my Video on Demand. Thanks, Xfinity.
“Screwball: The Ted Whitfield Story” is a comedy about a wiffleball player named Ted that overcomes the odds to remain a whiffleball player named Ted. It is the kind of movie that Brian Doyle Murray shows up in toward the end for some reason, causing the person sitting next to you to say, “Hey, you know that’s Bill Murray’s brother?” Fortunately for Mr. Doyle Murray, he wasn’t actually in this movie and the actor was just the “Jump to Conclusions Guy” from Office Space. A man who is definitely not related to Bill Murray, I think.
Maybe they don’t look like each other. Is one of these guys the diabetes guy from China Syndrome? Anyway…
After watching Screwball: The Ted Whitfield Story for an hour and a half, I realized this wasn’t the movie I intended to watch, which isn’t even on Xfinity anyway. After spending another 30 minutes fiddling with my Roku and having to sign up for an account on something called Redbox Online, I finally was able to watch the actual “Screwball” movie. Brian Doyle Murray isn’t in it either.
Screwball tells the real tale of Pedro Bosch, a man with a Belizian medical degree who injected athletes and children with steroids for money. He is all of the Cuban guys that grew up in Miami in the 80’s and the type that has gotten into several arguments at a Pollo Tropical while his kid, who he only has for the weekend, shout whispers at him “can we just go?”. To make a long story short, Bosch scammed $4,000 from a guy named Porter Fisher, the kid that was bullied at your high school but now works out too much and tries to sell you something called Shakeology through Facebook messenger once a year (I’m still not interested, Jeremy!).
The conflict between Porter and Bosch eventually “took down” numerous steroid pumping baseball stars including Alex Rodriguez and other famous athletes I definitely heard of before the movie. And by “took down,” I mean it didn’t, because A-rod is doing just fine. He does seem like a weirdo though and, although this wasn’t mentioned in the movie, is definitely is the type of guy that has jerked off to videos of himself hitting homers.
Screwball has gotten a lot of attention for its use of children during the film’s reenactments, an effective and entertaining storytelling device that is unfortunately ethically undercut by a scene during the credits in which the child actors are shown actually playing baseball among themselves. During the film’s parting moments, there is a shot of the child that plays Porter Fisher throwing a ball with just absurdly poor form. Like, the worst throw ever filmed on camera. That the filmmakers would put such an embarrassing shot of this young man in the movie is shocking and we have heard that CPS has opened an investigation on the filmmakers.
Screwball is an entertaining movie that is more about the folks you see driving rented BMWs on the Rickenbacker than Major League Baseball. It deserves to be seen now that it is on Netflix.
Screwball: The Tim Whitfield Story: C-
The Kid that Plays Porter’s Throwing Arm: F
Child Tim Elfrink’s Demon Red Beard: B+
Redbox Online’s Sign Up Process: F
This Article’s Photoshop: A+