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THE SCOUT

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Albert Brooks, Brendan Fraser, Dianne Wiest, Lane Smith, Michael Rapaport, Tony Bennett
Director: Michael Ritchie
Audio: Dolby Digital 4.0, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: October 2, 2001

“God said people make mistakes.”

“God never said people make mistakes, where did you hear that? He said honor thy mother, thy father, and thy Yankee contract.”

Film **

The Scout is one of those rare cases where it contains a promising opening, but continues to aggravate and disappoint as it progresses into its midpoint and finale. In this case, its an even bigger disappointment given the level of talent involved in the project, and being that this was released to theaters during the brief baseball strike, the audience deserved much better than this bland attempt at mixing comedy with a cornball, touchy-feely undertone.

The movie begins with introducing us to the lead character, luckless NY Yankees scout Al Percolo, played by Albert Brooks who does come through the role very well despite the weak story he finds himself in. Al has just recruited a potential pitching phenom (Michael Rapaport), who’s an actual triple threat. He can run, throw, and hit impressively, yet fear overcomes him and the kid can’t seem to make it on to the field. After having Al drag him out of the locker room, the rookie’s only maneuver on the field is that of regurgitation on the mound, followed by running away from the stadium.

As you can probably tell, I’ve been very descriptive about this portion of the movie, which is the first 10 minutes of the movie. This is the best part of the movie, because it is funny, and has some sharp funny dialogue, including funny jokes about Mickey Mantle and Lou Gherig. Albert Brooks is credited with co-writing the script, and the opening scenes really sound like his kind of comedic flavor. But what follows is a thoroughly predictable, unfunny melodramatic comedy that plays better as a cheap TV movie of the week than one fitted for the big screen.

Following the mishap with the scared rookie, Al is banished to Mexico, where he discovers what he seriously thinks is the next Babe Ruth. This discovery is Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser), who again is a triple threat talent. Al immediately signs the boy up, but the rookie has a minor flaw; he may not that right in the head. That’s where the movie takes the wrong turn, turning into something it doesn’t need to be. He goes to see a shrink (Dianne Wiest), who feels that Al is a strong father figure to Steve, and recommends that Steve go through routine therapy, though Steve doesn’t feel comfortable to open up about the past.

You can pretty much detect where the movie is going from that point on. I’ve been a longtime fan of Brendan Fraser ever since I first saw him in Encino Man, but he’s fared much better than this. I, for one, find the actor’s Dudley Do Right to be a much better movie than this. Brooks, a pro in comedy, does what he can with, again, such a weak story. The first fifteen minutes of The Scout are the only part that display some perfect laughs and potential, and the rest of the script should have had a major re-write.

Video ***

Though it’s not at the level of most Fox releases, this transfer is a good enough one to say the least. While the picture is most of the time bright and alive with nice use of colors, I did notice a few instances of over-saturation. Other than that one small complaint, this is an otherwise decent looking transfer.

Audio **

This is a mostly dialogue-oriented comedy, which doesn’t really offer much enhancement through a digital presentation, even though Fox’s choice this time around was that of a 4.0 channel. I do remember not really hearing much from the rear, and most of the sound coming the front area. I feel that if they had resorted to a regular 5.1, the result might have been different and better.

Features **

A light use of extras this time around. Included are two brief production featurettes, TV spots and trailers for this film and three other Brendan Fraser/Fox releases; Airheads, Bedazzled, and Monkeybone.

Summary:

The Scout starts off very good, but then goes slowly down the hill. The talent behind it does what they can, but this is simply a story that serves a TV movie better than one fitted for the big screen.