Review by Michael Jacobson
Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Brian Cox
Director: John Lee Hancock
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 127 Minutes
Release Date: August 27, 2002
it's your turn, Coach.”
movies have seemingly always had at their heart the concept of the nobility of
chasing dreams. The Rookie is
based on the true story of a likeable fellow who did just that.
It's a tale so inspiring, I wish I could have liked the movie more.
Quaid stars as Jim Morris. A gifted
pitcher as a youngster, Jim got a chance to play in the Milwaukee Brewers'
farm system, but shoulder injuries cut his career short before he ever made it
to the big leagues.
forward a good number of years, and Jim is working in West Texas as a high
school science teacher and coach of the school baseball team.
He threw regularly during that passing time, for relaxation and for his
team's batting practice, and an amazing, almost unthinkable phenomenon
occurred: his pitching arm actually
got stronger as he aged instead of softer.
to teach his young men about the value of believing in your dreams, he makes a
deal with them: if they can win the
district title, Jim will find an open major league tryout somewhere and give it
one more shot. An unlikely
scenario, since his team had only won two games over the past two seasons.
first half of the movie is one kind of traditional sports film, even though the
story is based on truth. Jim's
team got real good real fast, and accomplished what they set out to do.
This paves the way for the second half, where those young kids are all
but forgotten save for a few token shots, and a second kind of traditional
sports movie begins: the old athlete chasing after the lost dreams of his youth.
story is nothing short of astounding…in fact, this is the kind of movie that
you'd deem too good to be true if it weren't.
But in September of 1999, he became the major league's oldest rookie
when he took the mound for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays against the Texas Rangers in
front of his family and many of his hometown friends.
nothing wrong with the story at all. The
problem isn't that it's too good to be true, but almost that it's too true
to be good. Morris' real life
story on celluloid is sadly just so many familiar sports film clichés strung
together. We cheer for the man, but
can't help but feel we've seen it all before, even though when we saw it
before, it was fiction and not fact.
Quaid is the perfect choice to play the lead.
Too many actors would have injected Morris with an all-shucks and
golly-gee quality that would have added goofiness to the picture's flaws.
But Quaid brings a sincere earnestness to the role, and a down-to-earth
quality that earns our emotional investment.
When he smiles up at his wife and kids from the big league bullpen,
it's not just a smile-on-cue. It's a smile that really reflects the lifetime of dreaming
that lead to that one singular moment.
final thoughts: I didn't even
notice until after my viewing that the movie was rated G. I'm grateful. Though
adults might recognize that this is a film that falls short of greatness, it's
still the kind of story that will inspire kids, and making this a clean G (I
don't recall even a mild swear word uttered) should help to bring it the most
I wouldn't care if I never heard the song “Jump Around” by House of Pain
again in another movie for as long as I live.
anamorphic offering here is superb, with the modestly beautiful cinematography
by John Schwartzman giving the film a warm, rich look that adds dimension to the
West Texas backgrounds. Colors are
natural looking and well contained, and images maintain crisp focus and
integrity in both bright and low lit shots.
No grain or compression is apparent, and the level of detail is strong
from start to finish. The title is
also available in pan & scan, but a dream this big deserves to be seen only
in widescreen glory. Highest marks.
5.1 soundtrack is more than serviceable, even though the rear stage is mostly
dormant. The music by Carter
Burwell is a real plus, utilizing the .1 channel for extra bottom end, and the
front stage is quite active (especially with the whooshes of Morris'
fastballs). Dialogue is well
rendered, and no noise interferes.
disc contains a terrific 20 minute documentary on the real Jim Morris, including
footage from his memorable Major League debut, along with cast and crew
interviews. Three is also a spring
training segment that young ball players will like that's hosted by the
film's baseball consultant, and is broken down into several specific areas.
Rounding out are 7 deleted scenes introduced by director John Lee
Hancock, and a decent running commentary by Hancock and Dennis Quaid together.