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Rivercoast Films / 90 Minutes / 2010 / Unrated / Street Date: February 22, 2011
One of the most controversial titles to come to the DVDFile office in a while - I engaged in long arguments with three of our writers (though I remain the only one who has sat down and watched the thing) - 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King polarizes viewers before credits roll. I grew up in a house where Pete Rose's name was booed, almost outlawed, but even with cursory familiarity with the guy's career and legal troubles, I must admit to being fairly clueless.
And what 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King does is spend its entire ninety minute running time discussing, assessing and swooning over Pete Rose and his achievements on the field. Interview subjects talk about his innate charisma and team ethic, we hear thoughts from Pete himself about his literal obsession with the game, and even rock and roll king Robert Pollard throws in a number of songs (some new, some old, some performed with his sometimes-band Boston Spaceships) to both set the mood here and affirm Rose's legend.
4192: The Crowning of the Hit King makes a fatal flaw as a film, though: It doesn't address Major League Baseball's rule 21 in any direct form. I know, I know - it's crystal clear that the filmmakers here want to let Rose's on-the-field achievements speak for themselves - but even if the guy's gameplay prowess is Hall of Fame-worthy in spite of his questionable moral fiber, to not even hint at said moral fiber leaves a big blank spot in the movie's integrity as a doc.
The movie makes its point well - Rose, as presented here, is an exceptionally talented ball player - but 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King's refusal to address the elephant in the room makes it engaging but disappointingly lopsided. I agree that a person's achievements should be assessed without implicitly lopping in one's lifestyle - a discussion of Rose with one of our writers last night evolved into an argument over the merits of Roman Polanski - but a documentary should make that case. In 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King, its filmmakers take the easy route.