Novelist Don DeLillo brings many of his strengths to the screenplay for "Game 6," set on the night of the crucial game of the 1986 World Series. Smart talk, for one. When Broadway playwright Michael Keaton asks his estranged wife exactly how big a player her divorce lawyer is, she deadpans, "He has his own submarine."
Keaton has a plate full of worries: a bloodthirsty critic is set to savage his new play, it's opening when everyone in the city will be watching the Mets play the Red Sox, and Keaton believes that his destiny depends on the jinxed Boston team winning.
The film's absurdist humor cuts through a haze of angst (DeLillo finds comic potential in guns, brain parasites, mercury-tainted scallops and a cloud of toxic asbestos) as it winds its way to a surprisingly warmhearted conclusion.
The film's technical values are primitive, but the cast (including Robert Downey Jr., Bebe Neuwirth and Catherine O'Hara) savors the funny-philosophical dialogue. This is a film where everyone sounds smart and writerly, even the radio traffic reporter who turns news briefs on crosstown delays into beat-poetry meditations on the futility of existence.
**½ out of four stars
Rated R; brief partial nudity and language