You Are Not As Obsessive A Fantasy Owner As You Think You Are

Based on the 2006 bestselling book of the same name by Sam Walker, Stephen Palgon's Fantasyland is a documentary about life, family, and the lengths we go to in order to avoid dealing with them. Fantasy baseball is a near-billion dollar industry. Millions of people participate every season in hundreds of thousands of leagues, and at the tippity top you find Tout Wars, a fantasy baseball league for well-renowned experts led by industry icon Ron Shandler. Tout Wars, so the story goes, features the cream of the crop, the best fantasy minds in the world. To manage a team in the league is to manage a team in a league the likes of which few have never seen.

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Supported by the anecdotes of other fantasy owners, their wives, and Tom Candiotti, Fantasyland primarily chronicles the story of one man who beat out hundreds of applicants to win a seat at the Tout Wars draft table. Jed Latkin is a fantasy baseball enthusiast who also serves as a research analyst for ING for a paycheck. By winning the application process, Latkin earns the opportunity to participate in Tout Wars' greatest experiment - determining whether or not a regular fantasy owner can compete with the leading minds in the industry.

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The movie follows Latkin over the course of a single season, from draft to conclusion. It is not a film about numbers and baseball, but rather about the effect a man's unthinkable obsession with numbers and baseball can have on his personal life. Says our hero on his balance between life and fantasy trade negotiations:

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Everybody says that the best day of your life is the day your kids are born.

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But you don't necessarily have to be there.

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I am not a movie reviewer. In fact, this might be the first movie I've ever attempted to review in more than a sentence. But while I sat down intending to watch only the first third of this or so, I found myself drawn in, appalled yet impressed by the extent to which Latkin is engrossed in his team. It is unreal, in every sense of the word. Scenes with players (oh, there are scenes with players) such as Marcus Thames and Justin Verlander are both uncomfortable and incredible, and over the course of the film, one begins to wonder how Latkin manages to keep a roof over his head when he is the very definition of a one-track mind.

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Fantasyland goes live to a national audience Friday, but if you'd like to watch the whole movie now, simply follow this link or watch the embedded video below. Just make sure you have a free 90 minutes, because - make no mistake - it will compel you to watch it through to the end.

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