Don DeLillo is a postmodern novelist more renowned for his prose than his plots, and the DeLillo-penned film Game 6 is pretty typical for him, in that it's both dense and mundane. On the night of the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, New York playwright (and Boston Red Sox fan) Michael Keaton is preparing for the opening of his new show by journeying across the city, reconnecting with friends and family. He's got a bad feeling about the night, because his wife wants a divorce, his lead actor is suffering from a brain parasite that's making him forget his lines, and there are rumors that play-killing critic Robert Downey Jr. is lurking around the theater. On top of it all, Keaton is certainand rightfully sothat the Sox are bound to blow it.
The film peaks in the middle, as Keaton sits at a bar watching the game, imagining that he's controlling the outcome through the strength of his faith in the team. Meanwhile, back at the theater, his star is letting a simple piece of repeated dialogue"this could be it"slip out of his mind like a groundball through a first baseman's legs. Game 6's other action is more hit-and-miss. DeLillo and director Michael Hoffman structure the story episodically, with each cab ride and conversation taking on its own rhythm and meaning. The individual scenes focus on Keaton and company musing about what's important in life and art, while taking pleasure in the sound of phrases like "We must abandon" (spoken by a cab driver in the middle of a downtown asbestos rupture) and "à la Puttanesca" (spoken by a pretty bartender, describing the pasta special).
Hoffman makes impressive use of his low budget, thanks to a talented cast, an atmospheric soundtrack by Yo La Tengo, and the general feeling of confidence that a veteran director can bring to a project. But too much of Game 6 is designed to seem deeper than it really is. Cut through all the punchy dialogue and angsty soul-searching, and what's left is a movie about a bunch of clichés: loathsome theater critics, longsuffering Red Sox fans, failing upper-class marriages, foreign cab drivers, and awful New York traffic. The film's truest insight comes from another Sox-lover, who says he's stopped watching the team play big games because it's less painful just to look at the final score. Game 6 goes a different way, giving a detailed recap of yesterday's news.