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
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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