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THE ROOKIE
U.S. Release Date: March 29, 2002
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: John Lee Hancock
Producer: Mark Johnson
Composer: Carter Burwell
Cast: Brian Cox, Dennis Quaid
Running Time: 2 hours and 9 minutes
MPAA Rating: G

Feel-Good, but Flawed
by Sean Saulsbury

The Rookie tells the true story of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid), a science teacher and high school baseball coach who tries to rejuvenate a fading dream: to play professional baseball.

During the beginning of the film, we see the young Morris and his love for baseball. Growing up in a military family, Morris moves frequently around the country, maintaining the only consistent thing in his life: his love for baseball. The family finally moves to and settles down in Big Lake, Texas. Unfortunately, in this new town, the local school does not have a baseball team, nor is there anyone who wants to play. His dream of baseball can only remain a fantasy.

The movie then jumps to Morris in his 30s, married (Rachel Griffiths) with a son of his own. We learn that Morris had once played in the minor leagues, but was forced out after having surgery on his shoulder. He hasn't thrown a pitch in years and still lives in Big Lake where he teaches high school science and coaches the school's poor-performing baseball team.

After an embarrassing loss, Quaid gives his team a pep talk. He tells them the importance that baseball should have in their lives— that it symbolizes life and that you can't give up. He says that you have to have something to dream about, and whether it's baseball or something else, you have to hold onto that and go after it.

But the team challenges Quaid to practice what he preaches. They've seen him pitch a baseball, and they think he has what it takes to be professional. They challenge him to live up to his own dreams. So Quaid makes a deal with his students: He will try out for the minor leagues if they win their division championship.

Now the team has a dream of their own—to win the championship and challenge their teacher to live his dreams.

This film definitely has a positive, inspirational theme, but falters in how it tells its story. Half of the film is a story about a baseball team winning the championship, and the other half is about Quaid going after his dream of playing professional ball.

The Rookie delivers a few feel-good moments, but others moments have their flaws. Some scenes are drawn-out, often emphasizing family or religious themes for the sake of it, detracting from and sometimes even undercutting the actual theme of the movie.

Still, it is an enjoyable film and definitely interesting given that it's based on a true story. If you don't see it in the theater, it'll be worth renting on DVD/VHS or watching on television.


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