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I love it when they actually do a sports story well. So many in the
past have been so hokey it was embarrassing to watch. Not this one.
It's just a genuinely nice movie, an old-fashioned type of story - and
based on a real-life guy to did exactly what Dennis Quaid did in this
film. He plays a high school coach who is talked into trying out, late
in life athletically-speaking, to become a pitcher in professional
baseball. Eventually, he reaches his goal of making it to the Major
Leagues, even if it was a very brief stint.
All the characters in here are nice people, the kind you root for, from Quaid to the players on his high school team, to his little boy (Angus T. Jones, now somewhat of a star on television.)
Quaid is believable in playing Jim Morris because, unlike actors in the past in sports films, he knows how to throw a baseball. He looks like a pitcher, a guy who could fire it 90-plus miles per hour. And, most of this film is true, as testified by the real-life pitcher in one the documentaries on the DVD.
So, if you're looking for a nice, inspirational true life sports film, you can't wrong with this one.
My favorite films are those which are based on an interesting true story,
and are well made. "The Rookie" fits that bill, and I rate it very highly.
At first glance it appears to be about getting to play baseball. In fact, it
is about making your dreams come true, and the power of friendship. Baseball
just happens to be the subject matter. The first one-hour movie is about a
10-member high school team in West Texas that barely manages to win one game
each year. It is about their coach inspiring them to become the district
champs and go to the state tournament in 1999.
The second one-hour movie comes about from a "deal" the kids made with the coach. "If we win district, then you have to go to a tryout with a professional baseball team." They do, so he does. And to his and everyone else's surprise, his 85-mph fastball as a 20-year-old has become a 98-mph one as a 35-year-old. The films hints that it might have been divine intervention, a prayer to St Rita, the patron of the impossible. Might have been!!
Dennis Quaid is a bit older than 35, but he does a good job and is believable as science teacher, coach, and finally a surprised big-league pitcher in Arlington, Tx stadium, where he strikes out his very first big-league batter. The real Jim played two seasons, not particularly distinguished, but that point is way secondary. The journey, and the way he made it, with support from family and his baseball kids is what this film is all about.
The DVD is very nice, with a great picture and decent use of the 5.1 Dolby surround sound. Extras include footage of the real Jim, some original footage of his playing days, and his narration and re-enactment of his first trip to a big-league mound. Great stuff! Plus a few, moderately interesting deleted scenes explained by the director.
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.
Walt Disney's "The Rookie" is based on the story of Jim Morris, a
former minor league picher who made one of the most amazing comebacks
in sports history, ending an almost 10 year retirement and making his
Major League debut in 1999 at the age of 35.
The film opens with a brief synopsis of Morris' childhood, which included a series of re-locations - his father was a military man. And even when his family settled for good in football crazed Texas, Morris' passion for baseball remained strong.
The childhood segment then jumps ahead about 23 years to the adult Morris (played by Dennis Quaid) who is now a baseball coach and chemistry teacher at Big Lake High School (in real life it was Reagan County High School in Big Lake, Texas). It is mentioned that he attempted a career as a baseball player but that it didn't work out.
Morris's team is struggling and he lectures them about giving up on their dreams. They turn the table on him, telling him that he should try out for a Major League team. At several times when he pitches to them in practice, they express amazement at the speed with which he throws. Morris seems unconvinced but agrees to a deal with his players in which if they win district, he will try out for a Major League team.
Big Lake does win district and, adhering to his end of the deal, Morris attends a Tampa Bay Devil Rays try out. Phenomenally, he throws 98 miles an hour - faster than he threw during his minor league career and an outstanding speed even for a Major League pitcher. After another try out with the team, Morris is offered a contract with the Devil Rays.
This leaves him with a tough decision - stay in his comfortable life or once again pursue his Major League dream by going through the minor league grind of making little money and spending months at a time away from home. And the decision is even more agonizing than during his first minor league stint because he now has a wife and three children.
Morris signs with the Devil Rays, begins at the AA level and moves up quickly to the AAA level, one level below Major League Baseball. But as the season winds down, the chances of him getting "called up" grow increasingly slim.
For the most part, I love this movie. There are lots of great performances and likable characters and it's easy to find yourself really pulling for Morris. Also, the movie does a great job portraying professional baseball at both the major and minor league levels. And most of all, it teaches the timeless message of holding tight to your dreams even when they seem distant and almost impossible to achieve.
Still, the movie has some flaws. While generally accurate, it exaggerates and even fabricates a few things. Check out http://espn.go.com/page2/s/closer/020410.html for some examples. Also, except for one scene in which he prays with his players, the movie completely ignores Morris' Christian faith. But considering Disney's left wing zeal, that's not surprising.
Presumably, a lot of the exaggerations/fabrications were done to make the story more dramatic. Yet the 20 minute documentary on Morris that is included on the DVD features some information that makes his story more dramatic but is excluded from the movie.
For example, from birth until his family settled in Texas for good when he was 12, Morris re-located 14 times. And his initial minor league career ended after four surgeries through which he lost half of the muscle in his left (pitching) shoulder, thus making his throwing 98 mph even more inexplicable.
To fully appreciate and understand the story of Jim Morris, it's good to not only watch "The Rookie" but to watch the DVD's documentary, check out the aforementioned link to the movie's inaccuracies and probably also to read Morris' biography, also titled "The Rookie." I haven't read the book but I hope to one of these days.
But overall, "The Rookie" is a very good portrayal of a miraculous story and is a powerful testament to the power of dreams and the triumph of the common man. 8/10
This was one of the best bio-pics I have seen in years. Dennis Quaid is
perfect as Jim Morris, a man who finally gets a shot at his lifelong
dream-pitching in the big leagues. He is a high school science
teacher/baseball coach whose players make a bet with him:if they win
district, he tries out for the majors. You can probably guess what happens
next. I found this story made even more powerful by the fact that it was
based on a true story.
*** out of ****
A fine story about following your dreams and actually taking a stab at Doing
something about them when the chance strikes. Nothing was easy for Morris
either-he had a family, job, job opps elsewheres, a mortgage, etc-it wasn't
like he could just drop what he was doing and blithely hop on the greyhound
to play AAA ball for 4 months. It took guts. I am glad that they showed his
indecision, almost up 'til he got the callup to the majors.
I can remember seeing him pitch against the Red Sox(I think...), it was a great story. Though Morris actually looks more like John Kruk or a Mills Watson than Quaid-that's okay.
Quaid does a very good job playing the man, the teacher, coach and 'oldest rookie'.... As someone who is in the the same age group, I certainly can ID with his plight. You're not Quite too old to do what you had dreamed of as a kid, but it's getting there. You have to do it sooner than lator.
Believably told, nicely edited, paced, acted, good to see the familiar faces of the late Royce Applegate, Brian Cox and Rachel Griffiths here.
Good job all around, glad to see it hit.
*** outta ****...who woulda thought that the Tampa Devil Rays woulda been the subject of such a good movie early on?
When women feel the need for a `good cry' at the movies, they usually seek
out some tragic tale of unrequited love to do the trick. When men feel the
same need, they turn to a film about baseball. And what could be more
guaranteed to convert a grown man into a shamelessly blubbering fool than a
true-life account of a middle-aged baseball fanatic who gets to fulfill his
lifelong dream of playing in the major leagues? How many men can fail to
identify with that? Indeed, most men may not want to admit this, but the
baseball movie genre has, in many ways, become the male equivalent of that
category of film known, derisively by many men, as the `chick flick,' for
they both serve roughly the same purpose. Apparently, even we stoic males
have the need to clear out the tear ducts every now and then - for purely
medical reasons of course.
Because baseball has long enjoyed the reputation of being `America's National Pastime,' moviemakers have often treated it less as a sport than as an iconic institution. From `Pride of the Yankees' to `Brian's Song' to `Bang the Drum Slowly' to `The Natural' to `Field of Dreams,' movies about baseball have been so concerned with all the mythic implications of the sport that they have rarely managed to convey the sense of carefree fun that comes along with it (`Bull Durham' has been one of the few obvious exceptions to this rule). The tone in these films is sometimes so sentimental and so reverential that one begins to view baseball more as a type of pseudo religion - with the stadium functioning as a sort of temple where people gather to participate in a communal spiritual experience - than as a form of entertainment.
`The Rookie' certainly falls into this category, yet the film itself has such an air of comforting familiarity about it that it manages to override much of the conventionality of the storyline. Although we always know where the movie is headed, the easy assuredness with which it charts its course keeps us interested and absorbed for most of the duration. The majority of the credit goes to Dennis Quaid who, as Jim Morris, the high-school-teacher-turned-big-league-ballplayer, does a first rate job portraying a man torn between responsibility to his family and this golden, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of realizing a childhood dream. Quaid underplays the role so nicely that we never doubt for a moment the authenticity of all we are seeing on screen. The screenplay by Mike Rich, though filled with overly familiar scenes and characters, nevertheless manages to avoid many of the potential lapses into overwrought melodrama that could conceivably have robbed it of much of its credibility (the dark hints early on in the film as to Morris' problematic physical condition happily never come to fruition). Director John Lee Hancock establishes an almost elegiac tone, pacing the film in such a way as to match the unhectic lifestyle of both Morris and the small Texas town in which he lives.
`The Rookie,' like Disney's previous sports opus `Remember the Titans,' eschews violence, sexuality and bad language completely, thereby garnering the film a `G' rating and making it first class entertainment for the entire family. There may be nothing much new in it for adults, but `The Rookie' has the skill to make what was old seem somehow new again. Not unlike what happens to the hero himself in fact.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, and Angus T. Jones.
A science teacher in his late thirties decides to follow his dream...playing professional baseball. The team that he coaches makes a bet that if they win the championship, then he must try out for pro baseball. Well guess what happens? Yep, you guessed it. I can't exactly tell you the rest, but you'll love it.
The film has a lot of heart that keeps this movie going and going. Quaid portrays a wonderful performance as Jimmy Morris. Everyone else is perfect, and his is definitely on the top 10 of 2002. It's Oscar material all the way and deserves whatever it gets.
What's also good about this is that it can be a great movie with no bad language or anything. That's a sign of great writing.
Highly recommended to everyone, but very highly recommended to families.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Rookie is based on the true story of a 40+ year old school teacher
in Big Lake, Texas reaching the majors. Jimmy Morris (Dennis Quaid) is
a small-town high school science teacher and baseball coach. His team
is losing terribly until the team discovers that their coach played in
minor leagues and can throw a pitch 98 mph.
After throwing batting practice and a wager is made, Jim agrees that if his team wins regional's, he'll try out for the Major Leagues. The movie tells the story from Jimmy being boy to playing in his first game in the majors. It is a great underdog story and a very friendly family movie. Dennis Quaid makes the movie worth while, giving an emotional performance and is supported by an excellent supporting cast which includes: Brian Cox, Rachel Griffiths, and Angus T. Jones.
The story takes a little while to develop and some scenes are a bit slow but it all works in well by the end. The baseball scenes are fun, well-filmed, and portrayed excellently. The movie really isn't about baseball but about one man's quest to reach his dream. It's inspiring, it's emotional, and it's funny. I liked it, I hope you do.
The Rookie. Starring: Dennis Quaid, Brian Cox, Rachel Griffiths, and Angus T. Jones.
4 out of 5 Stars.
The Rookie is directed by John Lee Hancock and written by Mike Rich. It
stars Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Brian Cox, Angus
T. Jones, Rick Gonzalez and Angelo Spizzirri. Music is by Carter
Burwell and cinematography by John Schwartzman.
Out of Walt Disney Productions, The Rookie is based on the true story of 35 year old teacher and school baseball coach Jim Morris (Quaid). Who having thought his chance of making it to the major leagues in Baseball had long since gone, his minor league career curtailed by a shoulder injury, got that second chance and became the oldest rookie around.
What an absolute treat! A sports movie that inspires and uplifts whilst never resorting to cloying tactics or Hollywood sprucing story additions. First off the bat is that the film is unhurried in pace, time is afforded Morris and his family as well as the key issues that lead to his moment of fulfilment. Secondly is the bare honesty of the story, and that of the portrayals by a wonderful Quaid (at 47 here playing a 35 year old) and a likewise Griffiths. We are not going to be arriving at some monumental cliff-hanger finale (as per most other sports movies), history tells us that Morris made a minimal impact in his two years in the majors, this takes us to an earthy and achievable goal being attained.
Just prior to Morris making his bow at Arlington Stadium, we have seen the love of a husband and father who is separated from his family. He's out on the road playing ball, the emotional tug pulling him everywhere. There's money worries back home as well, really Jim would be better served back there, surely? All of this sounds like a recipe for sappy crappy time, but it's not, it's all beautifully handled by director and actors alike. The baseball scenes are smooth, the score and photography pristine in their execution (it's a Blu-ray must have), there is just no waste here. There's a rich human story to be told and wasting time on incidentals would be wrong, and Hancock knows this and never puts a foot wrong.
Heart warming and impeccably mounted, The Rookie is one of the greatest baseball films out there. But, and here's the thing, it's as much about life and its challenges as it is about fast balls and hot-dogs. 9/10
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