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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Last Play at Shea

February 5th, 2011

The Last Play at Shea - Buy from Amazon

The Last Play at Shea is a documentary / concert celebrating the life of Shea Stadium, which for decades was the home to the New York Mets and the venue for some of the most historic concerts of all time.

The Show

To commemorate the closing of Shea Stadium, Billy Joel performed two concerts there, and while this film has highlights from those concerts, it also has a lot of interviews from people who played there, both musicians and athletes, as well as historians and other features. Besides the talking heads, there's plenty of archival footage. The film looks at the history of the stadium from its beginning as a dream of Robert Moses, to being the first venue on the Beatles first North American tour, to be the home of the Mets. The stadium is best known for being the home of the Mets, but the Mets haven't always been known for being the best. At the same time, the film looks at the rise of Billy Joel's career, his move to Los Angeles, his early success, and the ups and downs of his personal life.

It is the intermixing of these two stories, the man and the Mets, that is at the same time a great strength for the film and a concern. There are some parallels in the two stories, while it does set the documentary apart from most. On the other hand, if you are a fan of Billy Joel but uninterested in the Mets' struggles throughout most of the 1960s and 1970s, then you will be bored half the time. This is also true if you are a fan of the Mets, but uninterested in why Billy Joel's marriage to Christy Brinkley ended. Also, while there are some parallels between the two stories, there are not many and they don't mesh together that well.

There is also a lot of great music, some of which takes center stage, while other times its reduced to the background. More than once I thought, 'Can we stop the narration and just listen to the song for a bit?' I guess that's what the Concert DVD / CD release is for. Too bad that doesn't come out for almost a month.

The Extras

There are two deleted scenes on the DVD, the first with Billy Joel talking about the Front Row Ticket Santas and the second with Chuck Klosterman, a writer who has published several books on pop culture.

The Verdict

Depending on your personal preferences, The Last Play at Shea might have too much baseball and not enough Billy Joel, or vice versa. The moving between the two stories might be a sign of lack of focus, or a cool hook to keep you interested. If you are a fan of Billy Joel or the Mets, than the DVD is worth a rental. If you are a fan of both, then it is worth picking up.

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