Mastronardo Bookmaking Operation

Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.

In June of 2005, my girlfriend asked if we could go see War of the Worlds. Tom Cruise was flying high, engrossed in a love that would last forever, and starring in a blockbuster that was getting okay reviews. While I was never a huge fan of popcorn movies, I relented. After two solid hours of explosions and other loud noises, I walked away surprisingly impressed with the effort. While the Academy may ignore this film, I thought, I had had a damned good time. The very next weekend, I visited home and caught up with my father. I told him that I thought War of the Worlds was pretty enjoyable and, since I knew he had seen it with my mother recently, I asked him if he agreed. His face puckered sourly and he muttered “No…no.” Then I launched into a litany of guesses, all wrapped in a pseudo-intellectual pose, as to why he disliked the film. Well, sure, it was a silly action movie, but you could do far worse. Spielberg may have “grown up”, but he was still a populist director at heart and quite good at directing the kind of movies that Michael Bay was consistently f**king up. And sure, it wasn’t deep and didn’t leave me with anything besides the faint memory of two enjoyable hours. But wasn’t that enough? Dad patiently sat there as his son prattled on for a bit. When I was finally winded, he said “You want to know why I hated that movie? You know that scene in the beginning where Tom Cruise is playing catch with his son?” Sure, I replied. “Well, Tom Cruise throws a baseball like a goddamned girl. He pushes the thing. PUSH. PUSH. How did you not catch that!? It’s plain as day. And I’m supposed to think he’s a hero!?”

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