Archive | July 2017

Veterans Field Review

To this point in the Cape League review series, I have been remarkably positive. I’ve not found many faults in the parks I’ve visited. And today, that line will continue. I might be spoiling the review a bit, but I find Veterans Field in Chatham to be on par with Brewster and Orleans. Does it surpass them? Let’s take a look. This is Veteran’s Field, home of the Chatham Anglers. 

One brief word on past experience at this place. I’ve come here for many games in the past. Two things I remember clearly: Watching 8 bats break in one game in the late 2000’s with my dad. Maybe 2009? Somewhere around then. The other thing is standing behind the plate with my friend Jim who was raised on this field and told me stories of Thurmon Munson blasting a ball to beyond the hill in center. For context, the center field fence is 385 feet away. The top of the hill is even further. He’s got tons of stories like that. Anyway, on with the review! 

Location: 10/10

I wish I could give this a higher mark. The location is absolutely superb. Every ounce of praise I gave Orleans regarding location applies here. For starters, Veterans Field is right on Rt 28 and Depot Street, the biggest street in the town and another fairly big street. There’s no way you can miss it. It’s well signed, but it’s so obvious as you drive in that there isn’t any signage needed. 

To make it even better, it’s just a short walk from downtown Chatham. The business district of Chatham is where the rich and fancy go to hang out. So one word of warning, don’t be shocked if you burn a hole in your wallet, it is THAT expensive. That’s about the only issue there. There’s plenty to do, buy, see and enjoy. My favorite movie theatre I’ve ever attended is in town, there’s an excellent stage there, and all of it is a stone’s throw away from the ballpark. You can park at the field in the afternoon, enjoy the town, and catch the ballgame at 7pm. No other field in the league can provide you with such direct access to a complete town experience the way Chatham can. 

The only thing that can kind of be complained about is the parking. There’s one small lot right in front of the field that fills up painfully quickly and another one at the adjoining Chatham Community Center that’s only a touch bigger. For the crowds that Chatham can draw, that is a decent complaint. But it only holds up if there’s no where else to park. And there are other spots. The lot near the elementary school and fire station on Depot street is a good place. There’s plenty of side street parking in that direction too, and some of the local businesses that close before game time let people park there for the game. The only complaint that can be lobbed against Chatham can be easily diffused by either showing up early or parking above the field. The location is nothing short of perfection. 

Seating: 9.5/10

Veterans Field has the best variety and some of the best general seating in the league. Like Orleans, there is a hill for seating. Chatham’s is in right and center field. It’s steeper than Eldredge, but I actually think the views are better than in Orleans. In general. There’s no net and you’re not over the dugout, which can obstruct the view on the first baseline if you’re close to home plate. The hill is also not the only seating section. There are extensive and distinctive bleachers behind home plate that provide an excellent view and a beautiful backdrop for the outfield crowd. There’s also picnic tables on the right field foul line near the visiting bullpen. They provide a good place to sit and see the game while eating some food. 

Chatham has the best mix of good views and variety of seat type in the league. You can get any kind of experience you want here. The Only downside is the fact that some individual places are badly obstructed. Outfield seats behind the light towers, the edge of bleacher seats behind the dugout, and picnic tables hidden behind other picnic tables. There’s not enough for me to be mad about it, but it’s still kinda annoying. Everything else is pretty much perfect. 

Food: 10/10

The consessions stand is right down the first baseline and is a short walk from everything. It’s perfectly located. The food is also good. No exceptional menu options other than the chili dogs, which I’m not a big fan of myself (I don’t like chili dogs in general) but it all tastes good and they get it to you quickly and with a smile. Their popcorn comes in souvenir cups that you can keep and the costs of everything are fairly low. And they have one touch that I absolutely love: they play Angler’s home radio broadcast at the concessions stand. You can get food and still keep tabs with what’s going on even when you can’t see it. Plus they do $1 hot dogs in the ninth inning. Chatham gets this part absolutely perfect.

Aesthetics: 10/10

This is among the prettiest ballparks I’ve ever seen. The stands behind it are distinctive and serve as an excellent backdrop to the action. The hill is distinctive and green, the trees in left are a nice touch and the scoreboard fills out the rest of the picture well. Playing under the lights is also a lovely touch. It gets even cooler when playing in the fog, as long as it’s not a blinding fog. Basically, nothing to complain about here. 

General Atmosphere: 9.5/10

What a great place to see a ballgame. It’s an old park that has aged perfectly. You can walk in, sit, and enjoy the game easily and watch some of the best baseball in the country with absolute ease. There’s also a spectacular playground that has seen some recent renovation. It can keep the kids happy and active for hour and hours on end. I mean if I were a kid and I could play in this or watc the game, I may well choose this play ground. 


There’s also a Gaga pit and a Little League sized ballpark right next to the field with kids playing a game there. So all bases are covered for the kids to either play at the park, the sandlot, or watch the game with family. It’s pretty sweet. 

The only issue I can find is the occasional snobbishness of the Chatham fans. And mind you, I’m talking about locals, not the visitors or parents of the players. Chatham can be a snooty old money New England town and can be unwelcoming. I’ve seen it and my friends have too. But don’t let that point turn you away, it happens one out of every hundred trips. And the experience isn’t soured by the one obnoxious fan I can encounter infrequently. This is still one of the best experiences in baseball. 

Total Score: 49/50

I’m not exaggerating when I call this one of the best sports experiences I’ve had as a fan. This park gets everything right and in my opinion, not only serves as the best park in the Cape League, but is a beautiful slice of Americana that must be experienced. This is the definitive Cape League experience. You can go at any stage of your life and enjoy the park, the playground, the game, and the company you keep at the ballpark. Its the most versatile park with the most complete experience. I have only tepid complaints at best. Veterans Field is not only a must for any baseball fan, it is a must for anyone visiting Cape Cod. 

Eldredge Park Review

Finally, a road review! Took a while but I have finally gotten around to visiting a field other than Stony Brook and writing about it! I’ve been to everyone already, now I’m just writing about them. 

Out of all the parks in the Cape that aren’t Stony Brook, I’ve been to Eldridge the most. It makes sense, Orleans is close to my house and I’ve been to plenty of games here. Let’s put my positive history aside and analyze the park critically. Would you like this place? Let’s find out. This is Eldridge Park, home of the Orleans Firebirds. 

Location: 10/10

Eldridge is located at Nauset Regional Middle School, right on the corner of RT. 28 and Eldridge Parkway. Those are two busy streets in the town and the field is hard to miss. It’s easy to see from the street and frequently attracts attention. On top of being visible, the park also has plenty of parking. The school has a sizeable parking lot for the early crowd and a separate football field and track where they can direct overflow traffic to. It can be a bit hard to navigate lot traffic but that can be said if every large lot ever. Point is, there’s plenty of it for people who drive by, like what they see, and want to stop and watch for a bit. 

In addition, Eldredge is quite well located within the town. Orleans is a fairly small place. But it swells significantly in the summertime. It has a great business district for shopping, restaurants, and general merriment. There’s also a theatre, a few great beaches, and plenty of good entertainment for the whole family in town. A number of these things are a short drive from the field, but that’s not too much of a concern. It’s close enough to make everything doable in a weekend or so. The business district is also close enough that you could have a short walk to the field. It’s not the ideal setup, but you can do it. All things considered, I have absolutely no problems at all with the location of the field. It works as a part of the Orleans experience and can cap a great day exploring the town. Perfect marks here. 

Seating: 9/10

Eldredge can host some of the biggest crowds in the Cape League. I was at the highest attended Cape League game to this point, a playoff game between Orleans and YD in 2015. Why can it host so many? Well there’s a ton of space around the fences. Plenty of open grass and room to sprawl out on a blanket and make it a picnic. 

The most distinct feature of Eldredge is the hill overlooking the first baseline all the way from home plate to the foul pole. It’s common practice to bring chairs, blankets, and other stuff and mark off spots on the hill the morning or afternoon before a 7pm first pitch. It serves as excellent advertising before the game and a great place to watch from. You can see everything, you can sit in a comfy lawn chair or blanket, and enjoy one of the prettiest baseball sights you’ll ever experience. Similar points apply to the area behind the third baseline. It’s not as high a hill or as distinctive, but there’s just as good, if not better, a view there. It’s actually my favorite place to sit for a game here. There’s also room to sit in all parts of the outfield. So in terms of locations and spacing, there’s incredible variety and quality in every place. 

The only point I’m taking off is for a lack of variety in kinds of seating. There are four bleacher seat areas. One’s in close to deadaway center, one’s in right field and two are near home plate on the first base side. The issue with these is that most of these are kinda useless. The outfield ones are partly obstructed by the top of the outfield fences, so you can’t sit on the lower parts and see the game. And the ones near home plate are in front of each other, thus making the back one kind of an obstructed view. Yeah, an obstructed view behind home plate, that actually exists in a park without pillars. There are also some picnic tables in right field, and while these are pretty good, they feel like an afterthought. They’re just kinda there without more being available to do or see under the trees in right field. 

All this is to say that Brewster does a better job of seat variety. To get a great experience at Orleans, you have to bring a chair or blanket, or be ok with sitting on the grass. Here’s the thing though, if you’re cool with that, you’ll find better views, and a better air to enjoy the game, especially under the lights. 

Food: 7/10

Like Stony Brook, Eldredge’s food is managed by volunteers from the Nauset Public Schools. It is a ticket system for cooked goods and functions in a similarly efficient manner to Brewster. Things are pretty similar except in one major way, the location. Orleans’ food set up is behind the hill on first base, above the majority of the crowd. And it is very set back from the field. It feels remarkably separated from the action and takes you out if it while you wait and are distant from the game. It is the weakest part of the field and can be averted by not going there for food. Just go to some place in the business district. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

Without hesitation this is one of the prettiest baseball fields I’ve ever seen. The field was renovated in the offseason and it looks gorgeous, green, and luscious. There’s greenery and trees around the field without feeling like you’re in a forest. Games start at 7pm, so there’s normally a pretty sunset to welcome fans at the start of the game. Playing under the lights is a lovely touch. It feels like big time baseball, and makes the experience feel like a scene from Field of Dreams. It’s also the most distinct field in the league, hosting the most unique set pieces. Rt. 28 gives the chance for foul balls to hit cars, the hill is a lovely touch, and there’s a band stand in right field that serves as the view for the Orleans bullpen. It’s a unique look. The outfield decoration isn’t as good as Brewster, with few patterns in the grass, but everything else about this park is so perfect that any complaint would be a useless nitpick. This park is beautiful. 

General Atmosphere: 10/10

Again, this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a baseball field. Every point from the prior category applies here. The chance to sit at a unique looking ballpark under the lights watching teams of excellent college players is a marvelous experience. The kids can enjoy running on the flat grass between innings, playing on the playground in left center field, and siting with their parents and grandparents a the ballgame. The crowds are big, the chance to sit out on the grass and picnic is a lovely chance, and the air around the park is wonderful. Perfect marks again. 

Total Score: 46/50

This is one of the best baseball experiences you can have. I am not exaggerating. The field is perfectly located, wonderfully set up, and absolutely beautiful to look at. It does require a little more work to get a great experience out of this than at Brewster. You pretty much have to bring a blanket or a chair to sit on the hill and get the best experience. But the best times at this field are among the best in the sport. This is not just a required visit for the Cape League, this is a required trip for any baseball fan. 

Baby Driver Review: Spontaneous Thrills

I normally don’t go to movie theatres. Most movies I catch now a days are DVDs, Blue Rays, or XFinity at my house or at showings my friends host. Occasionally though, I will go on a whim and see a film in theatres. My parents are on Cape and we had a free night. So my dad pitched the idea to see a film on Friday night. We all agreed. We ate quickly and drove over to the theatre in Dennis. We forgot it was opening night of the new Spider Man movie, so we had to wait in line for a while. Fortunately, once we got our tickets, we walked into one of the best films I’ve ever seen in person. 

I’m not exaggerating, Baby Driver is one of the absolute best expereinces I’ve ever had at a movie theatre. Why’s that? Well I shall explain. 

Let’s start with the absolute best thing about the film in my eyes (or ears): the sound design. The main character has a hearing issue and wears earbuds so he can listen to music and drown out the tin. The choice of music is excellent and fits the situation well in every situation, whether it’s sweet and romantic, tense and perilous, or fast and thrilling. What’s ear catching is how the music works with the other sounds. When someone passes Baby(yes that’s the main character’s name; we’ll talk about him later) the sound of their voice fades in and back out when they leave. The same thing happens with car horns, jackhammers, and anything else Baby can interact with. It mirrors the way you hear things with earbuds on in real life and is remarkably effective in putting you in the scene. You feel Baby’s character and thoughts through his music choices and subtle actions more than anything else. It is remarkably effective and it is something not many films will have a chance to replicate. The sound designers should win the Academy Award for Sound Design and it should not be a conversation.

The rest of the technicals of the film are excellent too. The cinematography is outstanding, especially with all the motion. The film never stays still, whether the criminals are discussing a heist, in the middle of crime, if Baby is out and about, or if the lead couple is on a date. The film doesn’t stay still, even when it’s slowing down from the violence of the crime world. 

I guess I’ll talk about that part now, don’t see this movie if you’re squeamish. There is a ton of violence. Not as much as The Revenant, but it is still not for the faint of heart. There are high pressure scenarios, shockingly violent deaths, fierce gun battles, and plenty of blood and explosions to go around. However, it’s not grituitous. Everything feels earned and nothing feels out of place. 

Which brings me to the action and car chase scenes, they are outstanding. The chases are beautifully captured and flow seamlessly. The action is remarkable. It does feel a little much, but everything else is so grounded and feels so real that the action can be as thrilling as the director can make it. The car chases are beautiful to watch, and in my opinion, top the chases in any Fast and Furious movie. Baby Driver‘s chances aren’t as elaborate, but they are more real because you care more about the characters in the cars, at least about Baby, than any Furious film. 

Now on the writing and story, I’ve rarely been as compelled in a film. The premise of a talented get-away driver who’s musically inclined and has a painful past trying to live a regular existence but getting pulled back into the crime world of Atlanta, and thus endangering his loved ones is an interesting premise and it works beautifully well. The film constantly twists and turns and always gives you new things to think about and doesn’t let you rest. 

The actors are perfectly cast for their roles. Andes Elgort is perfect as Baby and carries the film. He’s charming, lovable, and a fun character to watch. Jon Hamm and Elsa Gonzalez are outstanding as a robbing duo and dirty couple. They bring some edge to the film. Jaime Foxx is magnificent. He has no regard for anyone but himself, is scarily trigger happy, and is the film’s psychotic wild card. Kevin Spacey is manipulative, controlling, and completely captivating. Basically, he’s Kevin Spacey and is his character from House of Cards. You’ll love watching him. Lily James is striking and charming, working beautifully well as the love interest and the lighter side of a crime movie. But the character who stole every scene for me was CJ Jones’s character, who never says a word yet completely steals the whole show. Watch the film and you’ll see what I mean. 

Lastly, Edgar Wright deserves incredible praise as the writer and director of the film. This has been a premise he’s wanted to work on since 1994. He turned the planned opening of the film into a music video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song”. He kept it on the back burner until the time was right and finally got the chance to make it a reality. My only concern is that he’s been in discussion for a sequel and I think it’d work well as a stand alone. I hope there’s no unnecessary sequel. 

Baby Driver manages to work as a crime thriller with romantic elements. It juggles a few different genres and works so well. It is one of the absolute best films I’ve ever watched in a theatre. If you have a free night and can stomach some brutal violence, do whatever you can to go see this movie. It is worth every single penny paid to see it. 

Stony Brook Field Review Revisited

Well, this is fitting. The first time I tried to make this little project happen, I got as far as the first post and got derailed by other things. Now, let’s get the project started by revisiting the only field I touched on in 2015. This is my look at Stony Brook Field, the home of the Brewster Whitecaps. 

Now a few points before I get into the actual review. I love the Whitecaps organization. They gave me a chance to be a writer. That chance started me on the career I have today. They’ve allowed me to meet amazing athletes, fun fans, and among the best people I’ve ever encountered. I love the memories I have made at this field. They are among the best I ever have in sports. That being said, I will keep my blissful memories out of a critical analysis of the field’s merits and flaws. A little spoiler, most of the review will be praise, but I am not blind to possible improvements. Let’s get started! 

Location: 9/10

Brewster has a bigger year-round population than Orleans or Chatham, but it doesn’t have a real “downtown” or business area. So there isn’t a truly central place to put the field. They put it at Stony Brook Elementary School, which works well enough. The school is on Underpass Road, between the two major roads in Brewster, 6A and 137. It’s signed well on both roads, so the location works. It’s right on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, so bikers can come by and see the crowds and come on in. There’s also a few bike shops, a pizza place, a mini golf course, a fish place, and a popular taco place right next door, so there’s plenty of stuff right around the field. There’s also plenty of parking around the field, including overflow parking at Eddy Elementary, just a short walk through the woods away. The only location point I’m taking off is a general issue with Brewster: it’s way too spread out and doesn’t have a central business area the way other towns do. The only other issue is that it’s in a residential area and the locals don’t want lights on late, so there are no lights at Stony Brook. Those slight issues aside, the location works well and I quite like it. 

Seating: 9/10

Brewster has incredibly varied seating. There are traditional metal bleachers up the first and third baselines that get you up close to the field. You’re behind a fence, but you kinda have to be for safety. Foul balls can be hit hard. There are also a few hills you can bring chairs to sit on. The biggest one is over the first baseline and makes for a great chance at foul balls. There’s also a smaller hill on the third baseline, but you have to get there EARLY to grab a spot there. Lastly, there’s a hill in center field that overlooks the whole field. It’s a cool place, but there are two issues. First, it could be mowed down a bit. There are too many weeds and it’s quite messy. Don’t sit there without a blanket or a chair. Second, it is far from the action. That’s an issue with any baseball game, but it feels more away from the game in Brewster than at other fields I’ve been to. 

In addition to all that, there are picnic tables down the first baseline that provide a different feel completely. Unless you have food with you or have a young family, I wouldn’t recommend sitting there. It doesn’t give the best viewing angle if the game. 

Stony Brook has remarkable variety in style of seats and viewing perspectives. It can give you two completely different perspectives of the same game. The only point off is split between the listed issues for center field and the picnic tables. Otherwise, the seats are excellent. 

Food: 8/10

For many years, the Whitecaps had the assistance of the Brewster Skippers, a jump rope team that did fundraising by selling the food at Whitecaps games. They had a trailer along the third base line that they operated out of. It was unique, and the food was excellent. Last year was the last for the skippers, as they had a hard time getting a crew together for it, and the food set up is now different. 

Now the food is done by volunteers from the Nauset Regional Schools. They have a tent set up right next to the school, on the hill overlooking the 1st base side. It’s the same set up as Orleans and, spoiling that review a little, it works nicely over there. The new set up is quite good. It’s a ticket set up for grilled items. The selection is rather elementary but they do everything well and get it to you in a timely fashion while being courteous. Only points off are for the location being away from the souvenir trailer and the rather simple selection. Otherwise, it’s pretty good. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

This is a pretty field. The layout allows for some breathtaking sunsets over the third base side, the scoreboard is the best and most complete in the league, and the lack of lights takes nothing away from how pretty a field this is. Especially with Ryan Smith as the best creating patterns in the field pregame. No problems at all here. 

General Atmosphere: 9/10

This is an excellent baseball atmosphere. The public address announcer is the best in the league, The fans are excellent, and the playground behind the press box is outstanding for the kids. The only point off is for small things, like how the lineup posting is a piece of paper in a bulitin board on the back of the press box instead of a larger and more asthetically pleasing form like a whiteboard or chalkboard or how there’s no speed gun showing how hard the pitcher is dealing. Otherwise, it’s outstanding. 

Total Score: 45/50

This is an excellent ballpark. It does everything well and is a must see for anyone privy to the Cape League. Brewster is not a summertime destination in the same way Orleans or Chatham are, but people staying at Ocean Edge or in the area are doing themselves a gross disservice not going to a Whitecaps game. Go to Stony Brook and take the kids. They will love the playground and stay for the great baseball too. 

Cape League Reviews

Since buying our house in Brewster in 2000, the Cape Cod Baseball League has been a regular part of our summertime merriment. We’ve followed the Brewster Whitecaps through many summers, tough games, and two different home fields. I’ve been to every single field in the league and I’ve formed many memories. I’ve also gotten to work in and around the league. 

In 2012, I interned for the Whitecaps as a gameday ops intern, taking donations at the gate, selling 50/50 raffle tickets, setting up the stands and cleaning them up post game, hanging banners and advertisements in the outfield, and promoting the team and players wherever I could. Three years later, I rejoined the Caps as the team’s writer and social media intern. The year after, I had a hybrid internship that had me splitting time as a game day ops guy and a writer. This year, I’m working for Lower Cape TV as a cameraman and production guy broadcasting Whitecaps games. So I’m back on Cape and working around the league and the Whitecaps again. I also started writing reviews of Cape League ballparks. I’ve kept myself plenty busy in recent summers. 

About that last thing though, I never actually finished the review project. I did a review of my home park in Brewster and never did more. What happened? Simple: I got distracted by other stuff. I was writing for the Whitecaps and had enough on my plate at the time. This summer, I’m finally gonna get that done. I’m gonna review every ballpark in the Cape League. That includes redoing my look at Stony Brook Field in Brewster. I’ll be judging the field based on location, seating, food, aesthetics, and general atmosphere, each on a scale of 10 points. 

I’ll just lay out my favorite ballparks as they are now. And I am excluding Brewster from this initial ordering. I’m a little biased in their favor. 

  1. Chatham
  2. Orleans 
  3. Cotuit
  4. Hyannis
  5. Harwich
  6. Yarmouth-Dennis
  7. Bourne
  8. Wareham
  9. Falmouth

I’ll reevaluate all my opinions on these fields as the summer goes on. I’m quite curious to see how the fields matchup. Here’s to baseball! 

1776: A Poignant, Patriotic, and Comical Musical

The Fourth of July is a hotly anticipated day for us Americans. It means the peak of summer! Grills, baseball, vacation, beach time, fireworks, and time to celebrate with friends and family. It is a wonderful day. Though I have to remind myself that the holiday is called Independence Day and we’re celebrating more than just summer being awesome. It is also the birthday of the United States. 

It’s been 241 years to the day since the founders of the United States got together in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence, committing treason against the greatest empire in the world at the time, and boldly claiming freedom to make their own brand new nation. The American Revolution is a remarkable story and almost certainly the most astounding revolution in human history. It makes for excellent books, plays, movies, TV shows, and myths. Plenty of all have been made throughout the years. I recently watched one of the best: a musical film released in 1972 that focuses on the month long stretch from June to July of 1776 when the Continental Congress aggressively debated whether they would separate from the British Empire. The film is, appropriately, called 1776. It is an adaptation of a 1969 musical that won the Tony Award for Best Musical. If you are a fan of musicals, and appreciate the gravity and humor of the American Revolution, you owe it to yourself to watch this film. 

It centers on John Adams (played by William Daniels) trying to propose and pass American Independence through a useless, do nothing Congress that is spinning its wheels and voting on silly matters that aren’t worth the attention. He seeks and receives help from Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva) who quips and sleeps his way through the whole film while being a lovable womanizer, Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard), who mostly sits quietly but delivers powerful prose and wisdom when called upon, and Abigail Adams (Virginia Vestoff), who appears to John through letters as a calming prescence, a respit from the idiocy of Congress, and a chance to sort out thoughts on the given situation. Throughout the film,  those seeking independence have to wrestle with those seeking to maintain the status quo of British citizenship and slavery, like John Dickinson (Donald Madden) and Edward Rutledge (John Cullum). 

The film stays in Philadelphia and is only concerned with the proposal, discussion, debate, and signing of the Declaration of Independance. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton do not appear at all in person. Washington is only referred to through his depressing dispatches, and there are no battle scenes shown. The action is the political discussions surrounding the Congress. 

The most praised aspect of the film is the consistent mockery and humor at the expense of government, different states, and the characters themselves. Rightly so. This is a funny movie. Everyone is a charicature. John Adams is an Oompa Loompa from puritan Boston that yells and is obnoxious. Ben Franklin is an old womanizer who sleeps all film but is actually the wisest man there. The North Carolina delegation constantly yields to South Carolina and the South Carolinians are elegant jerks. 

On top of the characterization, the lyrics and lines are also filled with excellent humor. 

When saying why he should not write the Declaration, Roger Sherman explains “I don’t know a participle from a predicate. I am just a simple cobbler from Connecticut.” 

When Jefferson’s wife (yes there are historical innacuracies; we’ll talk about those later) shows up and relieves his stress, as it were, Adams comments on their choice of timing and asks Franklin: “Are they going to…? In the middle of the afternoon!?”

Franklin responds: “Not everyone’s from Boston, John.”

And when asked about the New York delegation’s lack of direction in voting, one representative responds: “Have you ever been to a meeting of the New York legislature? Everyone talks very loud and fast, no one listens to each other, and thus, nothing ever gets done.” 

The writing is top notch and it makes for an entertaining time. 

The music is only ok though. The lyrics are the best part of it. The choreography is rather simple and the notes themselves are not too complex. They weren’t trying to make a hard musical in those ways, but I can’t help but point out these issues. And as much as I like Daniels as Adams, I can’t help but find his singing voice disappointing. It’s not a deal breaker, but for the lead of the film, they could’ve gotten someone who’s a better singer. Other than that, the technicals of the film are exactly what can be expected from an early 70’s musical. The sets are on point, the costumes are excellent and the sound design works wonderfully. Everything technically is upto standards and works well. 

The biggest issue to be taken with it is the historical innacuracies. Jefferson’s wife did not actually go to Philadelphia during the time of the real thing, and the voting on the idea actually took place on July 2nd, before signing the declaration on the 4th. There are more, but I won’t harp on them. This isn’t trying to be a true to life adaptation of the real events, it is trying to show the atmosphere of the times and the gravity of declaring independence. And it does that well. 

While I praised the humorous tone of the film early, 1776 also has moments that are played stone cold seriously. This is honestly where the film is at its best for me. The debate scene between the proposal of Independence and the formation of the committee for writing a Declaration of Independence is played straight and the tension of the moment is perfect. “Molassas to Rum” is a scathing commentary on the nature of the slave trade and slavery in the south and is the best number in the movie. Cullum plays it up as Rutledge and shines. The thing he’s promoting are horrible, but it is supposed to grab your attention and it does. 

On the subject of slavery, this film shows excellent awareness of how murky an issue it was in those days. Adams and Jefferson wanted to remove slavery from the new nation, but the economy of the southern states depended upon it. If removed, the Deep South would’ve folded completely and the economic problems after the war would have likely been even worse. Adams acknowledged that “Future generations will never forgive us.” Franklin answered “That may be so, but without a country that won’t matter much.” It was an absolutely impossible moral dilemma and the way it is shown in this film is enlightening and sobering. 

The ending of the film is also sobering and jarring. The signing of the Declaration is played completely straight and with an air of “oh crap what are we doing” hanging over the scene. You’d think it’d end on a high note, but it doesn’t. It ends in a somber mood, as if to say “the fight has yet to be won”. That’s absolutely the correct way to end the film. The founders were committing treason against the greatest empire in the world and the greatest power since Rome. They knew they would likely fail. And by all rights, they should have failed. But they didn’t. 

When I think about why I celebrate Independence Day, I always think about how unlikely it is that the country should exist. The debate, the wars, the odds, the fight against human nature, nothing on paper says that America should exist today, let alone should have escaped the first months of its existence. This country has been through an unbelievable journey and it began in Philadelphia back 241 years ago. 

Hamilton is a more entertaining look at America’s founding and nature. But 1776 is a more accurate portrayal of the atmosphere of the country’s founding. It benefits from a tight focus on one location and particular month, excellent writing and a healthy dose of comedy balanced by sobering reality. If you have not seen this film, take some of your Independence Day to watch it.