'Let's Play Two': Film Review
Danny Clinch's documentary combines footage of Pearl Jam performing at Wrigley Field with the story of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.
Unable to make up its mind whether it wants to be a Pearl Jam concert film or sports documentary, Let’s Play Two succeeds at neither. Alternately showcasing footage from the band’s 2016 two-night stint at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and chronicling the Cubs’ unlikely World Series-winning season, Danny Clinch’s documentary will likely strain the patience of those who those who don’t fall into the category of being fans of both the band and the baseball team. The film mainly serves as a cinematic love letter delivered by frontman Eddie Vedder to the team he’s loved ever since his childhood growing up in Evanston, Illinois.
"It’s like stepping into Oz," marvels Vedder about the venerable baseball stadium he first attended as a young boy. His love for the Cubs was a seemingly quixotic one, considering the team’s dismal history recounted here via archival clips and interviews with many fans. Asked how he would describe Cubs fans in general, Vedder searches for the right word. "What’s the opposite of spoiled?" he asks, before his eyes light up as he comes up with the answer. "Abused!"
The baseball-themed footage, which includes interview with the team’s chief executive Theo Epstein but none of the players, is mostly perfunctory. So, for the most part, are the portions devoted to the history of the band, told to far stronger effect in such films as Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty. The most moving segment is devoted to legendary Cubs player Ernie Banks, seen making made his final public appearance at an earlier Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field. The documentary’s title was inspired by the phrase that the player made famous.
While there have been better Pearl Jam concert films, including Pearl Jam: Touring Band 2000, the footage on display here will satisfy the average fan. The picture and sound quality aren’t the best, but the powerful renditions of signature songs including "Better Man," "Alive," "Low Light," "Release," "Inside Job" and many others are thrilling, with Vedder’s obvious adoration of the venue in which they’re performing adding further emotional resonance. There’s also a terrific segment featuring the band performing on the rooftop of Murphy’s Bleachers, the iconic pub located near Wrigley Field. Their relaxed interactions are a far cry from The Beatles as seen in Let It Be, so it proves somewhat ironic that the last song they perform in the film is a cover of "I’ve Got a Feeling."
Production companies: Monkeywrench Productions, TourGigs Productions, Polygram Entertainment
Director: Danny Clinch
Producers: Lindha Naravaez, Michele Anthony, Monte Lipman, Marc Cimino, Christian Fresco
Executive producers: Kelly Curtis, Danny Clinch, Jake Saxbe
Directors of photography: Vance Burberry, Josh Goleman
Editors: Dean Gonzalez, Taryn Gold