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Buena Vista / 127 Minutes / 2002 / Rated G / Street Date: March 29, 2011
If you were going to make a movie about the true and inspirational story of baseball underdog Jim Morris, what actor would you pick? Brad Pitt? Bill Pullman? Brendan Fraser? I suppose if you wanted a real if slight resemblance to the actual man, as Hollywood so often does (read sarcasm), I'd probably end up with Henry Rollins. (Okay, It could be worse, but he is a poet after all, right?) But would you have guessed Dennis Quaid? He isn't such a bad draw at the box office, but that will change after this. A big sleeper hit, The Rookie is a wonderful story that was simply destined to be made into a movie
Baseball fans will remember hearing of the rather amazing Jim Morris only a few years back, a high school teacher who got sidelined in a no-name Texas town after an injury forced him out of the majors. Now's he stuck coaching baseball in a town that prefers football, and a team that's nearly as terrible as the Bad News Bears.
But Morris believes in his players, even if he has a hard time believing in himself. In a "Hollywood-couldn't-have-scripted-it-any-better" moment, Morris challenges his team to make the playoffs, and if they do, he'll try out for the big leagues. Bet you can't guess what happens next, but would you have it any other way?
Quaid is quite good here in a role that perhaps finally brought him the mainstream fame that so far eluded him his whole career. (With a few more sports flicks under his belt, he could even rival Kevin Costner?) The supporting cast is also wonderful, with fine performances from Brian Cox as Jim's Dad and the very talented Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under) as his wife. Director John Lee Hancock is a relative newcomer, but has already proved that he knows how to score a feel-good family hit. However, probably the most noteworthy contribution is by composer Carter Burwell, who has scored everything from Being John Malkovich to Gods and Monsters and various Coen Brothers films. His work here is no less fascinating, and nearly steals every scene.