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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Beth Grant, Brian Cox, Rick Gonzalez

Director: John Lee Hancock

Sports movies, especially American based sports movies, are pretty hard to sell outside America. For every successful FIELD OF DREAMS, there are at least a dozen others that fail to capture the imagination of a non-American audience. This time round, THE ROOKIE, just like FIELD OF DREAMS, is not just about baseball. What Walt Disney’s THE ROOKIE aims for is a feel good story of one man and his dreams for glory doing what he loves best, playing baseball. Based on a true story, this is the tale of Jim Morris, played by Dennis Quaid, who realises that it’s never too late for dreams to come true.

The story follows young Jimmy Morris who, moves from town to town, depending where his navy officer father (Brian Cox) is stationed. Finally settling in the small town of Big Lake, Texas, the move did not go smoothly as Jimmy discovers that he has lost his baseball gloves and socks. Jimmy goes to the local hardware store hoping to buy a replacement. Due to lack of interest in the sport, Jimmy doesn’t find what he’s looking for but the owner is willing to order whatever Jimmy wants from a catalogue. He also tells Jimmy about a local folklore story about baseball centred around two nuns that gets Jimmy’s hopes up.

Fast forward to near present day and we find Jimmy is now married with three children. He is now a science teacher and still resides in Big Lake. After school, he trains a sorry bunch of teenage students baseball. Due to a lack of not winning more than one game a season, the school hardly gives any funding to the team, preferring to spend their resources on the football team. As far as Jimmy’s dream of making it to the major leagues, that all came to an end when he suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury in 1986 and had to retire later from it. However this did not deter him from his dream as he goes out to the old Legion field every night to pitch.

After an awful display by the Big Lake Owls, Jimmy gives his team a prep talk about not wanting to see them quit out on the field. They strike a deal with their coach that if they win the district championship, Jimmy must go for a try out in the minor leagues. Encouraging Jimmy to pitch his 90mph throws during training, not only helps the Owls to improve their batting, but the impressive run gives them a chance to win the championship. If they do win, will Jimmy though have second thoughts about trying out for the minor leagues?

Dennis Quaid, who is no stranger to playing sport roles such as American football players, a cyclist and a boxer, plays the role of a baseball player with ease. With a number of major decisions to make along the way, Quaid plays the strong but silent type who prefers to let action speak louder than works.

It’s refreshing to see a movie with no swearing or over the top action sequences but will this Walt Disney movie be enough to keep the attention span of young audiences for more than two hours? At times the movie does drag a little but is entertaining enough to keep interest from faltering. It is rare to see this sort of true story about one man achieving his dreams treated as a labour of love.

4 out of 6 stars