After watching “Ali” a couple weeks ago, I’m starting to fall out of favor with movies that focus on major sports figures. There are plenty of legends I never saw play so it is cool to see some sort of illustration of what made them so memorable. But unfortunately when it comes to films like “Cobb,” there isn’t anything worth seeing.
Baseball was the first sport I got into so of course I know who Ty Cobb is. And while he was a phenomenal player, he was also a terrible human being. Yeah you can play hard but Cobb played dirty and was known as a racist among other unflattering criticisms. So since this isn’t news to me, why should I be surprised when all of his flaws are thrown in my face in a movie?
“Cobb” focuses on sportswriter Al Stump as he is invited by the baseball legend to write his biography…and by write he means make him look like a hero. Right away you see just how much of a racist ass Cobb is. In fact the entire movie consists of him repeatedly using racial and ethnic slurs, which gets old after a while.
Now Stump realizes that The Georgia Peach will never let him write about his dark side so he does it all secretly (as if he wouldn’t find out). Yet it’s so easy to find content for this hidden story as Cobb continues to be the most unlikable person ever. I don’t think I’ve seen a “hero” as unlikable since Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull.” And just like in that situation, this brings the whole movie down. I respect the effort Tommy Lee Jones puts forth to be Ty Cobb but it’s just too much.
And unfortunately as the ending draws near, even Al Stump becomes unlikable as he transforms into a jerk as well. There are plenty of scenes that defy logic in this film with several that makes you wonder what the hell these guys are doing. It just doesn’t make sense and brings down a movie that had potential.
See what kills “Cobb” is that most people who know about the legend also know the kind of person he is so showing how dark he was doesn’t have the desired impact. There were certain things I didn’t know about but in the end no one ever thinks of Ty Cobb as an American hero. Frankly I always liked Honus Wagner over him. So when you see Cobb consistently doing terrible things there is nothing that makes you feel sorry for him nor a reason to positively remember the film. And the ending, reminiscing about the hero that he was, feels completely idiotic because no one thinks of him that way. Also if you just showed how bad Ty Cobb is, doesn’t it contradict the epiphany Stump experiences?
Now I understand that biopics need to have depth. You can’t just hear about how great a person is otherwise it gets boring. But one thing that both “Cobb” and “Raging Bull” fail to understand is that there needs to be something that makes up for the protagonist’s major flaws. And for both, there isn’t. Instead we are forced to see sport legends continue to show what terrible human beings they are. If I wanted to know what Ty Cobb was like, I could just read a book. And at this point, no one even needs to do that.