Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
I am thankful that I had the chance to visit a major league baseball stadium as a child. There is just something majestic about walking into a large ballpark for the first time, and I’ve never lost that wonder. I can remember the first time I took my two sons to a major league game, loving the wonder that danced in their eyes. I’ll admit I love baseball, but I’m not fanatical (I don’t memorize stats or collect memorabilia, just enjoy watching the game.) My favorite team will always be the Cleveland Indians. It is truly a field of dreams. My youngest son, age 11, enjoys playing the game. In fact, twice last year he drove in the winning run! It’s great fun at almost any level.
Walt Disney Pictures captures those dreams and the old-fashioned wonder in their latest film “The Rookie”. On only three occasions have I been in a theater and witnessed spontaneous applause after a film—“October Sky,” “The Princess Diaries,” and now “The Rookie”. My youngest son and I attended the area premiere together. I always look forward to the release of a G-rated film, making me feel like a paleontologist looking for dinosaur bones. The theater was jammed packed; there were several families and lots of baseball caps. This film is to baseball what “Hoosiers” is to basketball and “Remember the Titans” is to football.
“The Rookie” is very respectful towards people of faith and even includes a well-placed moment where a coach prays with his team. Christians and people that value high morals need to support this film. You may not like baseball or sports, but I can almost promise that you’ll walk away from this movie feeling inspired. I cannot wait to see it again and I have not stopped talking about it since the viewing. Let’s create some positive buzz!
“The Rookie” tells the real-life story of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid, who turns in an Oscar-worthy performance). Morris was a 35-year-old science teacher whose childhood dream was to one day pitch in the big leagues. His father was in the military and so he moved quite often, his dream seeming always just out of reach. He never let his pursuit of this goal separate him from respecting his parents. Morris injured his arm in the minor leagues while in his 20s and quickly became a pitching wash-out. While coaching his high school baseball team, they made a deal with Coach: they would try to win the District Tournament if he would try out for the Major Leagues. Thankfully for him, Jim’s years-old injury had healed to the point where he became able to throw 98 mph pitches! He goes on to become the oldest rookie to make the Majors and plays for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
There are many great family moments and scenes of conflicts overcome. A great film for Director John Lee Hancock’s debut.
The talented Mike Rich (“Finding Forrester”) was the screenwriter. Rachel Griffiths turns in an outstanding performance as Jim’s wife and mother of three. Imagine… a G-rated film with adult characters! My only slightly objectionable note is that there are two brief scenes of alcohol use. But my high recommendation is to catch this one on the big screen—it is not just a home run, it’s a GRAND SLAM for families! Thanks again Disney! We knew you still had it in you to make films that aren’t offensive.