Baseball cards at the movies revisited …


   So naturally, I had to go to the movie “Cop Out” the other day, in part because a baseball card reportedly was featured as a plot device and so I wanted to see how our hobby was portrayed.

   Bruce Willis, playing himself playing the same cop he’s played for 20 years (I’m reminded of John Wayne, who usually played himself playing the same cowboy over and over), is the owner of the alleged 1952 Topps Andy Pafko that gets stolen pretty early on, and Willis needed to sell it to pay for his daughter’s $48,000 wedding. Ahem.

   Anyway, about the extent of our hobby’s presence was a brief scene at a card shop where Willis presents it to the store owner for inspection. For those keeping score at home, the actual movie prop was a 1952 Topps Reprint, which is maybe ironic or more likely just understandable since they wouldn’t want to wave around a genuine $50,000 card if they didn’t have to.

   I thought about hollering at the screen, “Hey, that’s not a real Pafko; that’s a reprint!” but somehow it seemed like it might have been inappropriate. They also showed a kind of sepia-toned flashback sequence were youngsters are looking at their 1952 Topps cards on the steps of a typical Brooklyn brownstone, and explained that the Pafko card got ill treated by ruthless rubber bands because he was card No. 1.That was a nice enough nod to the hobby.

   But that’s about it. I wasn’t disappointed in the minuscule presence the card actually claimed in the script, because I hadn’t expected more more. I saved most of my disappointment for the movie itself, where it turned out the whole was way, way less than the sum of its parts.

   I won’t diverge too severely into a movie review, other than to say Willis was tolerable in a role he’s played with only minor alterations so many times, but some of the dialog almost reached the point of non sequitur, and that Tracy Morgan just annoys me something fierce. In a role that might have been phoned in by Chris Rock, he seemed so wildly buffoonish and absurd that it strained credulity even for cinema.

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