Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: "The House of Steinbrenner"

So I finally got around to watching Barbara Kopple's "The House of Steinbrenner" today. I had very low expectations for it, given that it was part of ESPN's "30 for 30" series. I figured that it would be very critical. It really isn't as harsh as I expected, but it is something nearly as bad -- it's pretty dull.

The documentary is extremely slow-paced and ramblng; it takes a good 20 minutes (out of a 60 minute episode!) to even get into discussing Steinbrenner himself. And if you're looking for a coherent narrative explaining even how many titles the Yankees won under Steinbrenner, forget it. It's not that kind of documentary.

Instead. "The House of Steinbrenner" wastes a lot of time with those annoying "fan on the street" type interviews that I hate, where fans whine about every little thing, like the who says the new stadium isn't for "real fans" because it has a sushi stand. Dude, if you don't like it, don't eat there. Nobody has taken away your ability to get a hot dog at the new ballpark.

Aside from the behind-the-scenes footage of the old Stadium being dismantled, and some shots of the ticker tape parade, the most interesting thing is hearing Hal Steinbrenner talk. He's a very likeable guy, albeit neither colorful nor bombastic. (If only Hank had agreed to appear in this documentary, it would have been much more fun.) Hal looks like a combination of George Steinbrenner and Tucker Carlson, but sounds like his father on Xanax.

One of the big surprises was that Hal is a pilot; I can't imagine given what happened to Thurman Munson and Cory Lidle, that The Boss was too thrilled with his son's hobby, though. And seeing Thurm's picture behind Hal when he's going on about his love of flying was too spooky for me.

It made me sad to see the old clips of Steinbrenner, back when he was the larger-than-life character. And to see the Warner Wolf interview in 2004. where you could see in retrospect that he was starting to decline, although we didn't know it at the time.

"The House of Steinbrenner" isn't a complete waste of time, but it's also not exactly must-see TV, either. I made sure to write this review right after watching, because I figured I would forget it in a day or two! It's that inconsequential.

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