Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
It’s Friday night. You and the boys—in your late teens and early 20s—are taking in a 10 o’clock flick. You’re enjoying it OK, talking during a few of the scenes, grooving to some of the music, and by the end of the movie you’re cheering…for The Rookie!?! You know who you are, and I can’t blame you a bit. It’s natural to assume that a Disney label plus a G rating will equal an unabashedly sentimental film that will do well only because of Ice Age spillover during spring break, and The Rookie’s saccharine packaging will likely keep away the many childless lovers of baseball who would appreciate it much more than any soccer mom ever could. Based on a true story, the film tells the tale of Jimmy Morris (Dennis Quaid, who should drive a pickup and wear nothing but jeans, T-shirts, and flannels in all future roles), a 35-year-old high school baseball coach with a blazing fastball who makes a bet with the uninspired kids on his team that if they make the finals, he’ll try out for the big leagues. The brilliance of turning this story into a movie is that you get two feel-goods for the price of one: You’ll be happy for the hard-working players on Morris’ team when they succeed (much happier than for, say, the foul-mouthed little bastards of Hardball), and, if you’ve ever had a dream in your life (for those who just thought, “To become a chiropractor!” you don’t count), you’ll be happy with the film’s stirring denouement. Leisurely paced at just over two hours and accompanied by a reflective, aching soundtrack filled with artists such as Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, and Steve Earle, The Rookie is far from being merely a kids’ movie. Though the thrill of each game scene will be felt by all ages—if you’ve never understood the beauty of baseball, John Schwartzman’s cinematography might do the trick—Morris’ several solitary moments as he struggles with feelings of regret and decisions about what’s best for his family may not hold the interest of the T-ballers. But given the gasp that came out of my mouth after a gorgeous shot of the Ballpark in Arlington and the whoops of the guys in front of me once the movie went major league, it probably won’t be the tykes you’ll need to hush in the theater. —Tricia Olszewski