John Goodman is cast as the Sultan of Swat, whose excesses -- especially drinking -- and private demons can (in this context) be excused in view of his genuine love of baseball. The facts never get in the way of a good story for screenwriter John Fusco; we're even offered the umpteenth rehash of "Little Johnny", the largely fanciful tale of the invalid boy who promises to get well if Babe hits him a homer (as in Pride of the Yankees, the cured Johnny makes return a appearance as grownup). The most amusing fabrication is the casting of narrow James Cromwell as the Babe's orphanage mentor Brother Mathias, who in real life weighed 300 pounds. Many of the characters are composites, notably Bruce Boxleitner's Jumpin' Joe Dugan. At least Ruth's two wives--Trini Alvarado as Helen, who suffers Babe's many peccadilloes and dies under strange circumstances, and Kelly McGillis as Claire, who keeps Babe on a very short leash-are depicted with a modicum of accuracy. The baseball sequences are well handled (though there could have been less slo-mo) while Elmer Bernstein's charmingly old-fashioned musical score is right in tune with the film's approach to its subject. The Babe is rated PG; had this been the whole truth and nothing but, and R rating would probably have been in order. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The Great Bambino has never seemed so pathetic. Well actually, he's not so much pathetic as the movie is. Acting's good all across the board, especially John Goodman as the Sultan of Swat himself. John Fusco's screenplay is pretty sub-standard, especially for such an important bio-pic. And Arthur Hiller directs EVERY high moment like that big moment where the Babe called his shots at Wrigley Field.A few scenes work--very few. It gets some of the facts right, which is fun.But in the end, this one forces itself to be a family made-for-TV movie, even accesible for three-year olds. Ending is one of the sappiest things I've ever seen in a movie. If you have love for the Babe yourself, skip this one just out of respect for him. It aint' so, Babe. None of it was. DANE YOUSSEF
Maybe fun for the kids tho.George Herman Ruth was quite wild with his carousing ,drinking & women. Geo Ruth was incredible in the time 1919 through 1925 and saved baseball thru the worst of the depression by keeping fans in the seats! He had toned down his partying ,lost weight and took better care of his health during this time also. This movie with John goodman was fun but it could've been better highlighting Ruth's tryly great years than by ignoring them. Go rent a biography.