The Rookie

2002, Movie, G, 129 mins

Review

ROOKIE, THE
starstarstarstar
Sweet and languid, this film tells the true story of high-school baseball coach Jimmy Morris and his life-long love of the game. We first meet Jimmy when he's a determined young boy (Trevor Morgan) with one helluva fastball, hoping to stay in one town long enough to finish a season while his distant father (Brian Cox), a career military man, is frequently reassigned. Landing in Texas, the nucleus of America's football obsession, young Jimmy learns there's no room for baseball in the Lone Star State. Twenty years later, the grown-up Jimmy (Dennis Quaid) is a man whose major league dream was cut short by a shoulder injury, coaching high-school ball in the same small Texas town. The boys on his team are an affable, gangly group of underachievers who stop their beloved coach in the middle of talk about the importance of not giving up to ask, "What about your dreams?" The boys and Coach Morris strike a bargain: If they win the district championship, he'll try out for the majors. The team works hard and takes the championship, and suddenly Coach Morris has some explaining to do to his supportive, though understandably concerned wife Lorrie (Rachel Griffiths). In less accomplished hands, the film easily could have veered into simpering, maudlin territory, but director John Lee Hancock and writer Mike Rich (FINDING FORRESTER) take a small, simple story about a man and a dream and tell it on a grand scale. Some scenes do run a little long, and Hancock could have used a slightly lighter touch with the soundtrack; the story is strong enough that audiences don't need constant dramatic musical cues. But Quaid is in fine, BIG EASY form, and delivers a deft performance; his Jimmy Morris is a solid fellow whose self-possession is tempered with equal parts frustration and awe. Too bad Australian actress Griffiths (HILARY AND JACKIE, Six Feet Under) is as underused as Amy Madigan was in FIELD OF DREAMS: She mastered a realistic Texan twang for the role. leave a comment --Tanya L. Edwards

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