Plot: At this point, steroids and baseball seem inseparable, as one scandal after another seems to pop up and haunt the sport. In Screwball, we’re taken inside the story of Tony Bosch and Biogenesis, a performing enhancing clinic that served numerous professional athletes, including Alex Rodriguez. The scandal was huge and deepened the stain of cheating on baseball, a sport that had yet to even recover from the steroids scandal that tainted the legendary home run races with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds. Now you can see how the Biogenesis operation began, spun into a huge enterprise, and was eventually brought down, as well as the unbelievable story of Alex Rodriguez’s involvement.
Entertainment Value: Screwball is a documentary and it has a lot of the expected elements, including re-enactments, but it takes an interesting approach, as all of those scenes are performed by kids. So you see these outlandish, almost too crazy to be true scenarios acted out by kids, which is just surreal and hilarious. The movie also has plenty of traditional interviews, news reports, and other archival elements, but the re-enactments stand out, to be sure. That approach might seem odd in a documentary about steroids in baseball, but Screwball takes a light, often wacky tone, giving us all the data, but in colorful fashion. And that makes sense in this case, as this story is wacky to be sure and as I said before, almost too crazy to be true, but we saw all the fallout on the national news stage. Bosch’s wild business was the source of countless odd twists and turns, all detailed here in full, often from the people who lived the story first hand, or actual news reports and other archival references. In other words, even if you don’t often watch or appreciate the documentary genre, Screwball might still be of great interest to you.
The colorful approach ensures a brisk pace and an entertaining style, which is why I think it might appeal to those even beyond the normal documentary crowd. This is not a dry, dusty take on a historical topic, but a lively, mostly first hand account of a crazy real life series of events. The same holds true as far as subject matter, as I don’t think you need to love baseball to appreciate Screwball. I think it helps, especially if you watched at the time these events were going on, but the story is almost like a true crime spin, that happens to involves sports and famous athletes. There is a crime angle that runs through the entire narrative, as things get more and more out of control, investigations are put into motion, and the nets start to tighten around those involved. A few of the bigger names involved aren’t interviewed first hand, which is a let down, but the ones who are here seem candid and open. This leads to some eye popping revelations and once again, we learn that truth is always stranger than fiction. Anyone with an interest in baseball, scandals, or documentaries should give Screwball a spin.