The Last Play at Shea

Film
2 out of 5 stars
The Last Play at Shea

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Say what you will about this grossly sentimental concert-movie-cum-elegy for the late, great Shea Stadium: The filmmakers know their key demographics all too well. If you're a diehard Mets fan (the kind that gets sexually aroused at the mere mention of their '69 World Series win), or think that Billy Joel ranks somewhere between JFK and Jesus in terms of significance, or simply get teary-eyed at shots of swaying crowds singing along to the National Anthem, then this movie was made for you---and only you. Before the Queens-based sports arena was torn down to make way for [Shudder] the nearby Citi Field's new parking lot, Levittown's favorite son would perform one final show in the sacred venue, complete with guest stars like Tony Bennett, Roger Daltry and, in a last-minute coup, Paul McCartney. That event alone, you'd imagine, would be worthy enough for a feature.

But for every brief snippet of Joel performing his hits, viewers have to contend with pop-history lessons narrated by Alec Baldwin at his most disingenuously unctuous, a Behind the Music--style biography about the musician's ups and downs, peripheral human-interest stories and trivia about the Beatles' legendary '65 concert at Shea; the farewell performance itself feels like an afterthought. Worse, Last Play's clumsy attempts to present Joel's angry-young-piano-man persona and the stadium's working-class vibe as two sides of the same outer-borough coin feel like synergistic straining at its most desperate. The show eloquently chronicled the end of an era; in terms of doing justice to what the loss meant to New York and beyond, this sappy, sloppy souvenir can barely make it to first base.

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