time: 129 minutes
by Kevin Lang
Starring Dennis Quaid ("Frequency," 2000) and directed by John Lee Hancock, "The Rookie" is the true story of Jimmy Morris, who at the age of 35 tried out to become a major league baseball player after losing a bet in which he challenged the high school baseball team that he coached to make the playoffs. It was an uplifting yet predictable story (it's a Disney film) that reminds us that it's never to late to follow your dreams.
Upon seeing the preview for "The Rookie" for the first time at the theater, I can remember feeling my eyes open wider immediately after I saw "Rated G" come up on the screen. This was because the preview footage that I was seeing was not animated. At first I thought that maybe they just forgot to put the "P" before the "G," and maybe they even misplaced the "-13" after these two characters. However, this was not the case. I even downloaded the trailer on my computer just to make sure.
"The Rookie" was a rare film. It was a clean non-animated movie whose story contained such commendable decency that although it didn't offer anything unexpected, it still worked well as a film. It was a feel good film, and it never gave you any reason to think that it was not going to be. It knew how to tug the right heartstrings, and we began to root for Jimmy Morris as if it was our own childhood dream that was being fulfilled. After the movie I couldn't help but recall my fantasies from when I was younger of someday playing in the National Hockey League. It feels good at times to revive these old dreams, but what's more important is the movie's lesson, which is to always believe in oneself despite the odds.
Although not nearly as powerful, the film in some ways reminded me of the 1993 film "Rudy." Both movies were true stories about determined athletes defying the odds in order to fulfill their dreams. The main difference between the football movie "Rudy" and "The Rookie" was that in "Rudy" the main character, played by Sean Astin, experienced a greater amount of struggle and overcame significantly greater odds, not to mention that his was a story based solely on desire and determination as he lacked much of the size and skill required of him. Jimmy Morris in "The Rookie" had the skill. He was merely seen as being too old to try out and make the major leagues, which didn't seem to make for as significant of a feat. Also, without as much conflict, I felt more extraneous to Jimmy's story, as if I was warming the bench rather than getting to play myself.
To compare "The Rookie" to one of the greatest sports films of all time may be unjust, but the sheer emotional force that "Rudy" possessed was what "The Rookie" lacked. Still, "The Rookie" was an enjoyable film. In the end you'll find yourself wanting to cheer for Jimmy Morris, and you'll feel a renewed sense of confidence that dreams can come true.
Review written March 29, 2002, CTF.
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