Rookie, The

Rated: G
Stars:    Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Brian Cox, Beth Grant, Angus T. Jones
Director:    John Lee Hancock
Writer:   Mike Rich , based on the book “The Oldest Rookie” by Jim Morris

Some films deserve never to have been made, and it’s not because they’re necessarily bad, but because they are unforgivably bland, as is the case with The Rookie.

Based on the book “The Oldest Rookie” by Jim Morris, this true tale tells the story of a boy (Morris, himself – played by Quaid) who dreamed of a career in baseball, and instead, through circumstances beyond his control, became a high school science teacher in a dusty Texas town.  Then, at the age of 35, Morris successfully gets drafted as a pitcher, becoming the oldest rookie in more than 30 years.

The film quickly takes us through Jim’s childhood, moving frequently around the country as his Navy-recruiter father (Brian Cox) takes them from job to job. Rigid and unemotional, the father gives Jim absolutely no support for his dreams or his pitching skills. And Jim grows up resentful, with no uncertain fear for the man. Neither Jim’s mother nor father are awarded much time in fleshing out their characters. Cox has a thankless role; he’s mean up until the final predictable last-minute rapprochement.

Jim’s wife, Lorri (Rachel Griffiths) is the high school counselor at the same school as Jim’s. Over the years she’s watched Jim survive career halting injuries and seen disappointments heap up on him. Jim’s greatest joy now seems to be coaching the school’s softball team, even if they are a bunch of unmotivated losers and second-bananas to the more important football players.

One day, Jim is challenged by the boys on his team: if they shape up and win their district championship, Jim must try out for the majors once again. By the time Jim gets the opportunity, he and Lorri have three young children and she’s not particularly enthusiastic with his intentions. Still, as you might expect, she eventually comes around, and becomes as much of a supporter as young son Hunter (Angus T. Jones) who has been his father’s biggest cheerleader and good buddy through much of the film.

Lotta says: Dennis Quaid looks the part; he pitches well and makes the dream believable. Angus T. Jones is cute and wonderfully expressive and Rachel Griffiths does a good job with what’s given her, a fairly sparse role with but one emotional high point. The problem is that very little in this film is exciting or interesting. The scenes with the team are just like every other losing team’s; the editing isn’t all that spectacular and the whole thing is predictable without affording us any compelling elements. Jim’s 98-mph fast ball is the only thing holding our attention. I’m glad Jim finally got to realize his dream but I bet reading the book is a better way to spend one’s time rather than wading through another Bad Luck Bears before that fast ball finally comes our way to spark things up. This is a family- friendly film, though, so maybe that’s it’s biggest saving grace. It’s definitely a step above snoozer, thus my rating.