A pro ball player with a substance abuse problem is forced into rehab in his hometown, finding new hope when he gets honest about his checkered past, and takes on coaching duties for a misfit Little League team.
Forced back to his small home town, an alcoholic baseball hotshot fakes recovery to regain his position on the roster, coaches a little league team to regain his popularity, pursues his old flame to regain a romance, all while finding redemption among a group of addicts. Written by
Anybody that dares criticize David Boyd's Home Run for being heavy-handed, preachy, or incessantly moralistic hasn't seen even a fourth of the films that belong to the recent influx of independent Christian cinema. In comparison, and just analyzing the film on the basis of it being a religious drama, the film is not at all heavy-handed, as it finally does what I've been saying films of the genre should've been doing all along; emphasizing their characters and their characters' flaws as human beings over tiresome religious themes and constant reminders that the characters are god-fearing, much like the writers, producers, and director behind the film.
The film stars Scott Elrod as Cory Brand, a professional baseball player who is forced into a twelve step, rehabilitation program in his homestate of Oklahoma after numerous alcohol-related incidents have worked to damper his otherwise shining record as a ballplayer. After an impulsive comment by Cory's long-suffering agent, Cory is stuck coaching a Little League team, which just so happens to include his son as a player. Cory winds up reconnecting with his high school girlfriend, who is just disgusted at him as a person for many understandable reasons, works to start a relationship with his son after a long absence, and tries to come to terms with his father's neglectful ways.
For starters, I'm almost positive Home Run doesn't even mention the word "God" or "Jesus" until about a third of the way through the film, which is an immense step in terms of subtle filmmaking for this particular genre. In addition, the film manages to understand that you can make a faith-based film without reminding the audience that you're making a faith-based film with every line of dialog. I speak not as somebody who is opposed to the utilization of such religious words, but somebody who is opposed to constant, cloying reminders of a film's faith when there are complex characters at hand.
Thankfully, Boyd and the film's quartet of writers - Brian Brightly, Candace Lee, Eric Newman, and Melanie Wistar - understand this, and carefully construct one-hundred and forty-six minutes around the central character of Cory in an immensely personal light. The film shows Cory's tough battle with alcohol and how the substances command his body in such uncontrollable ways, however, makes clear that this prolific consumption isn't done to provide a buzz or a desired drunk feeling, but to heal the wounds of Cory's father, who browbeat him constantly and left him scarred and unfulfilled emotionally.
Elrod does fine work as such a trouble character in the film, and with him being in frame with almost every shot in the film, he is left to do a great deal of work here, most of which he handles with a convincing persona. To further acknowledge the film's crew, however, the writers do a magnificent job at making sure the film doesn't veer off into sappy monologues or ridiculous, religious sloganeering that manifests as crucial and breakthrough insight. Instead, they're much more preoccupied with illustrating Cory's progress as a human being and a person, rather than cheapening it to fit some sort of ill-conceived faith formula.
Even with these great traits that shouldn't go unnoticed, Home Run still has a few issues, which come in the form of incredulous scenarios such as Cory's interactions with his son, where one simple sentence of advice results in a game-changing hit, and discussions with Cory's high school sweetheart seem to exist just to provide annoying drama. Yet, these are easily-forgivable instances when one considers the lack of convention in terms of structure and narrative approach Home Run bears. The film has enough confidence in its story, characters, and ideas that it doesn't resort to tirelessly reminding us that this will all circumvent in a way that will allow Cory to find God, nor does it have to remind us again and again that Jesus is our lord and savior whom we must follow if we want a fulfilled life.
Home Run goes off on its own tangents, illustrates its own rules, and, in turn, produces a winning display of a faith-based character study and the idea that people can indeed change. On top of that, there are just enough religious elements incorporated to assure a satisfied community church crowd, but also enough drama and character investment to appeal to a broader, far-reaching public, making Home Run the perfect family film even in a secular household. This is the kind of rare film that starts out so deep in one small subgenre that it branches out and effectively transcends boundaries to become a small film that will be appreciated by many.
Starring: Scott Elrod, Dorian Brown, and Charles Henry Wyson. Directed by: David Boyd.
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