Maybe 10 years ago, my dad's best friend hit me with two entirely unsolicited movie recommendations: Amazing Grace and Chuck and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (which I still haven't seen). Now, this friend, while an awesome guy, is also quite happily full of crap, and spends a lot of time spewing knowledge on things he actually knows very little about. So, it was with no little trepidation that I sat down to watch Amazing Grace and Chuck, a movie about a little league baseball player, an NBA superstar and, yes, nuclear disarmament. Yep, it's cheesy beyond all rational bounds of cheese, and weird and simplistic and idealized and all that -- and even today, I literally cannot talk about it without crying. (This post actually grew out of a conversation I had with my dad a few weeks ago during which I tried to remind him of the movie's plot. I had to stop because I got so choked up. Yes, I'm pathetic.)

For the 99.4% of you who have never seen the movie, it's about a kid named Chuck (played by the adorable, worried-looking Joshua Zuehlke, who never appeared on screen again) who is a great little league pitcher and also the son of a fighter pilot. As a special school trip, his dad hooks Chuck's class up with a visit to the local nuclear base, where some asshead military guy informs Chuck that, if a nuclear bomb went off as his sister, say, dropped a fork, she'd be vaporized before it hit the floor. (This man clearly has never talked to a child before.) Needless to say, this haunts Chuck, and he finally decided to give up his "best thing" -- pitching -- as a protest against nuclear weapons. Oh, and he stops talking, too. Chuck is a very serious kid. Eventually, a basketball player named "Amazing Grace" Smith (played by NBA Hall of Famer Alex English) read sabout Chuck's protest and, deciding to join him, just shows up at Chuck's house. Once Amazing Grace signs on, a flood of on-strike -- but still talking -- professional athletes move in, and they all live in a happy, anti-nukes commune. Then things get nasty (and this is when I start to cry when I try to talk about it) -- there's all sort of pissed off stuff in the press, but shady corporations are also angry, and a plane blows up and somebody dies. Seriously. It's awful.

Things get so big that, quite reasonably of course, the president (Gregory Peck, lending the thing some gravity) and the Soviet Premier get involved, and the world changes. I don't want to spoil the big weepy finale for you, but when Chuck goes back to playing finally, the waterworks start for real -- I get chills just thinking about it. Then, at the very end, the screen fades to black, and the words "Wouldn't it be nice?" appear. Which, you know, makes it ok that it's so impossible and cheesy, because the whole thing is just a big, idealized fantasy.

I swear to you that my heart hurts when it's over, though whether that's from all the crying or the tragic story, I'll never know. Either way, it's horrible and absurd and sad and so totally fantastic, and I demand that you all go rent it this minute. Please. Buy tissues.
categories Features, Cinematical