Jim Morris is a Texas high school chemistry teacher and coach of the school's baseball team. He's always loved baseball and as a way of motivating his players, he agrees to go to a professional try-out if they win the championship. He once had aspirations to be a professional baseball player but an injury brought that to an end. Sure enough, the 39 year-old father of three finds himself at a camp for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and he somehow seems to have regained his pitching arm, easily throwing a 98 mph fastball. Signed to a contract, he toils in the minor leagues while his supportive wife stays home raising their children. He soon finds himself called up to the big club and pitching for Tampa which is in Texas playing the Rangers. Based on a true story. Written by
Usually I review a movie just after I've seen it, but the last time I saw this one was a full 2 weeks ago. Yet it still sticks in my mind and heart.
Baseball movies are inspirational by nature and seem to have all kinds of application to life (for example, my review of Field of Dreams). Jimmy Morris challenges the losing baseball team he's coaching to not give up on their dreams and has the challenge thrown right back at him. This wouldn't make for such drama if the majority of the movie up to that point hadn't been to show how Jimmy's own dream had been systematically dismantled. Such movies anyone can write, but when I found out it was a true story, it put the movie in a higher bracket altogether.
The conflict between Jimmy and his father is played very well by both Quaid and Cox. At one point or another, you can just feel coldness of the walls built up between them. They're reaching out (Hunter's baseball glove, Jimmy's asking advice), but can they ever connect?
While some might balk (sorry) at the presence of Hunter, Jimmy's son, I think the kid adds a lot to the film. Baseball is all about kids, anyway. And it's good to see a son who looks up to and believes in his dad. That phase is over far too soon for most fathers to enjoy it enough. I think the dream is as much Hunter's as it is his father's.
The theme of the Rookie is "never give up on your dreams." That's laudable. But the affirmation of the importance of families, even through broken relationships, as well as a clean script, makes this one that families can buy to watch every now and then. Disney surprised me with this believable, down-to-earth tale. I'm definitely picking this one up on DVD.
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