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By Kyle Bain | October 20, 2020

Balk explores the lengths that grown men will go to for a little extra money, including kidnapping, all pertaining to America’s pastime, baseball. Regardless of how its popularity has diminished in past years, it still holds a place in the hearts of millions. How do you take the typical narrative of baseball and shift it into something modern and unique? Well, just focus on two idiots and their twisted understanding of what the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means. The movie’s unique approach to the camaraderie that baseball (and sports in general) provides intrigues the audience from the get-go.

Pat (Linas Phillips) and Rob (Will Janowitz) are oddly obsessed with the local little league baseball team. They have followed the team for some time and have grown to genuinely care about the well-being of the team’s star pitcher, Max Goldfarb (Patrick Ryan Wood)—mainly because they enjoy betting on the games.

When Max fails a history test and is unable to play in the championship game, Pat and Bob take it upon themselves to manipulate the game in any way possible. As Rob and Pat discern that their hopes, dreams, and money are about to be thrown out the window amidst Max’s absence, something happens to them, and their cringy approach to fixing baseball-related issues turns hilarious.

“…Pat and Bob take it upon themselves to manipulate the game…”

In just eighteen minutes, writer-director Gabriell Wilson lures in the audience and introduces them to a type of comedy that seems uncomfortably inappropriate but honestly funny at the same time. As discussions of kidnapping and pedicide commence, audiences, against their better judgment, cannot help but laugh. Balk employs genuinely funny talent that helps to deliver the story in a distinctive fashion.

Phillips’ comic delivery is comparable to some of the Hollywood greats, as his timing, emotion, and facial expressions garner laughter from nearly everyone watching. He has the look of someone who most parents wouldn’t want near their children. While this may be considered an insult, it’s actually a testament to the brilliant casting. Casting director Allison Twardziak finds the perfect person to portray Pat and lead the twisted abduction and gambling story. Phillips finds his niche in Balk as the grimy baseball fan, and thanks to his outlandish demeanor and astute comic delivery, the film is successful.

How difficult must it be to develop and follow through on a story in less than twenty minutes? The answer: very! Yet the talent of the director, writers, cinematographer, editor, and actors finds a way to develop one of the most ridiculous stories that I’ve seen in a long time in a thorough and appropriate fashion. Through absurd, borderline inappropriate comedy, and a play on the American classic, baseball, Balk finds success in ways that I’m not entirely sure anyone expected. With this combination of fantastically delivered components and Phillips’s brilliance as a comic, Wilson’s Balk is nothing short of a home run.

Balk (2019)

Directed: Gabriel Wilson

Written: Ben Gottlieb, Gabriel Wilson

Starring: Will Janowitz, Linas Phillips, Patrick Ryan Wood, Leslie Meisel, Bari Hyman, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Balk Image

"…nothing short of a home run."

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