Odd Year III -- *½:
Oh, to be tasked with keeping a sad, tired franchise alive. It's impossible, really. The Odd Year movies have come at a predictable clip -- every other year, natch -- but they're burdened with a fundamental problem. How do you top the first one?
Answer: You don't.
In the first Odd Year, the opening montage established the rise out of the depths, the struggle and pain the Giants went through to finally succeed just once in their stupid lives. It got us rooting for them and everything they were striving for. Then they (spoiler) immediately eliminated the main character. It was the boldest choice since Executive Decision, synergy between the screenwriter, director, and marketing wing. It was set up so expertly, from previews down, and then it was pulled from us violently, heightening our pain and shock.
It was the one of the most devastating moments in cinematic history. Buster Posey was the hero, and then he was sucked into the apocalyptic rubble. Everyone was supposed to see their way out in the choking dust. It was bold and essential, everything we were promised from the Odd Year franchise.
Then came the sequel. Odd Year II was fine, don't get me wrong. They ratcheted up the pathos, making the Giants a truly awful team instead of a team with false hopes, and it was a much different look. But the big twist ending was vomited upon us in the second act -- a roll-your-eyes number with Jeff Francoeur, straight out of central casting. It was ... scary, but only in a vaudevillian sense. More campy than camp, at least in the beginning, which made the descent into turmoil and malignancy that much more unbelievable. They went with dark and artsy, and they ended up with dull melancholy.
Now, in the hopes of salvaging the franchise, we have Odd Year III. It's easily the worst of the bunch. It's not the most painful or devastating, and it's not the most thoughtful. It's just dumb. Sincerely dumb. Imagine the pitch for this one:
Producer: We don't know what to do if we want to top the other two. Make an ensemble picture where ... everyone gets hurt?
Movie Exec: SHIP IT.
Producer: But I don't know if that makes s
Movie Exec: SHIP IT.
And that's the twist. Everyone gets hurt. I hope the second graders who came up with it one get extra gumdrops. Or whatever second graders subsist on. The Giants in Odd Year III get hurt. Early and often. That's the twist. It comes up at the end of the second act, and it surprises no one. At least work a giant falcon into the mix. Something borne of nuclear waste and fire.
Instead, Odd Year III panders and runs us through the motions, even after the intent is established with the injuries. The injuries aren't as gruesome as in the first one -- and thank goodness for that, with only so much bile to share with the world -- and they cheat to make us think they're just as devastating. Well, they're not. Punches were pulled, and while that helps our stomachs, it doesn't help the narrative.
Does it make it sting more that the Dodgers are the villains again? Sure. And what about the narrative of the extended losing streaks? Terrifying, surely. Not enough to save the production, though.
There was one moment of clarity, a diabolical twist at the end of the film. The Giants, who enjoyed success because they could hit, couldn't score two filthy runs against a bad team in the filthiest run-scoring ballpark in baseball history. The Giants feasted on lousy teams and road parks. Here's a lousy team, then, in a road park, these Rockies, playing in a launchpad. And the Giants failed in the exact opposite way of how you would expect them to fail. They almost pitched! They just couldn't hit. The twist is that we didn't know them in the first place. Not at all.
It was an ensemble cast and quite ambitious, but there's nothing redeeming about Odd Year III. Most of the actors are the same as the first one, and they seem tired. Hopefully a few of them can find new jobs after this. They've earned it. There's no way to recommend this one, though. Woof.
Odd Year III -- *½
The Little Man is sleeping, everyone. The Little Man is sleeping, at best. This was an unnecessary sequel. It might be the most unnecessary sequel.