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The Rookie (2002)
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Review Date: February 21, 2002
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Mike Rich
Producers: Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray, Mark Johnson
Actors:
Dennis Quaid as Jim Morris
Rachel Griffiths as Lorrie
Brian Cox as Jim Morris Sr.
Plot:
Based on the true life story of Texan Jim Morris, this movie starts off with a bet from a kid's baseball team with their aging coach, that if they go on to win their division title, he will have to try out for an actual major league baseball team training camp. They win and he's stuck with his end of the wager, which seems impossible at his age (which is not given in the film, for some reason, but he's in his thirties, I assume). Add to that, a wife, three kids and things only get stickier from there. But then he tries out for the team and...
Critique:
Is it me or does this movie feel like the sanitized version of BULL DURHAM to anyone else? Replace Costner with Quaid, remove all gruffness, swearing, sexual reference or entanglements, take out the fun, the unpredictability and the well-earned length of the latter film, slap in a cute kid...and you've pretty much got the Disney-fication of a classic baseball movie. Unfortunately, this one basically seems to be going through the motions, the motions that we've already gone through in a million other sports movies before it (but this one is based on a true story, JoBlo!-so what?!), and for some odd reason, takes its jolly ol' time relating a story which everyone in the audience already knows from seeing its 30-second trailer or hearing about it. Granted, even some predictable movies can be entertaining if played right (note: REMEMBER THE TITANS), but unfortunately this movie spends more time on slow-motion shots of an old dude pitching, umpteen images of others watching him zoom strikes by everyone and being amazed (wow, did you see that?), and many gorgeous shots of the nostalgic bits from baseball life, that you just end up feeling bored about it all (unless you dig on stuff like that, of course). The film also features a handful of montage sequences set to a peppy soundtrack in the background, which ultimately weigh the film down somewhat as well.

Now I'm pissing on parts of this movie because the story is definitely an interesting one, the nostalgia established in the film is vivid and Quaid is pretty solid as the pitcher-who-could, but there's just no originality, no unpredictability and rarely any moments of genuine emotion throughout (granted, when the old bastard was finally told that he was going to "the show", I did feel a certain lump knocking at my throat). Is it a "nice message" movie? Of course! It's Disney, after all. The flick reminds us to "go for our dreams" and "not give up in the face of adversity", and that you should never allow your wife to shoot a movie with Russell Crowe since you never know-oops, wrong moral. Anyway, I guess this is a lot like many other cheesy Disney movies wherein you will either buy into all the schmaltz and cry it up when the geezer finally gets to the majors, or it'll remind you of how much your life sucks and how Disney's fluffy movies ain't gonna change anything in that respect. Either way, the kids will surely get something out of it, the message is a worthwhile one, and if you haven't seen the trailer, know nothing about sports movies or Disney, and want to see Dennis Quaid in jeans, t-shirts and a Jiffy Lube baseball cap, you might just be entertained by the rehashed story in this film. Sounds like a decent video rental to me.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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