The Rookie -- ***1/2 (out of 5) (2002)
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Brian Cox, Beth Grant, Angus T. Jones
Directed By John Lee Hancock
Forget HARDBALL...THE ROOKIE is the movie to see for truly inspirational baseball action. What's more, it's based on the true story of Jim Morris, a 35-year-old who thought his pro career was over when he sustained a shoulder injury when he was in the minors over a decade before. He became a baseball coach in a small-town Texas high school, when one day he pitches a few to the catcher on the team, at the risk of re-injury, and is surprised to learn he can still bring the heat. The struggling team makes a deal with Morris that if they make the division playoffs, Morris will try out for a pro team. The team does, and Morris does, but the road paved to the "Big Show" of Major League Baseball isn't easy, especially when he has a wife and kids that need money and their daddy.
Although there are certain contrivances that abound, THE ROOKIE rarely makes a misstep in it's narrative at any point of the lengthy 2 hour and 9 minute running length. Dennis Quaid is terrific as Jim Morris, and although his fastball isn't up to Morris' stuff, he certainly delivers like a pro, both in the realistic pitching motions as well as in the lines of the script. Director John Lee Hancock makes his big screen debut, and it's a good one, and THE ROOKIE is especially impressive for the beautiful cinematography by John Schwartzman (PEARL HARBOR), that gives the look and feel of baseball. Also to it's credit is the supporting cast, with not a bad performance among them, and another inspirational script by Mike Rich (FINDING FORRESTER).
THE ROOKIE is a Disney movie, and rated G, so it's suitable viewing for the whole family. Don't make the mistake of thinking the G rating means it's strictly for kids, as adults will be just as entertained. One of the better movies of 2002, and recommended for everyone, baseball fan or not.
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