The Rookie

The Rookie


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Baseball movies require subtitles if you don't understand the game. The mitt has become an icon of American culture, it seems, and those two-fingered signs the padded person whips out between his legs isn't a gay Masonic message to the bloke with the ball, but pidgin semaphore concerning the nature of the next delivery.

There's no mystery, really. It's rounders in Victorian pyjamas. The rest is homespun mythology.

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That's where The Rookie comes in. It's so oozy with reverence for the national game, you feel like taking up topless darts to get away from it.

Jim Morris is alive and well and living in retirement. This is his story. As a kid, he showed promise, but the family was always moving and he couldn't settle down with any junior league team, ending up in a small Texas town where they didn't play at all. As a young man he tried out as a pitcher on the pro circuit, but did his shoulder in and never made it. You don't see this in the movie. It hangs there like a rancid dream. He's nudging 40, married with a couple of kids, teaching science and coaching the high school team.

In the best tradition of never-say-never, he listens to the kids and has another go as a professional. His wife (Rachel Griffiths) is loving and supportive. His seven-year-old son adores him. He goes on the road as the oldest rookie in the history of rookiedom, doesn't fool around with waitresses or let the loneliness of the long distance motel room get to him. He pitches a 98mph fast ball, which blows away most of the batters, silencing those locker room Grandad jibes. Suddenly, he's an all-American hero and still a bore.

Dennis Quaid looks good. He's in shape, obviously recovered from those marital blues and dirth of decent parts. This should boost his standing. Griffiths was successful in Australia (Muriel's Wedding) and England (Jude) as a supporting actor. Now she's turned towards Hollywood (Blow), but was sidetracked into this stand-by-ya-man role, which does her no favours.

The film is a sentimental biopic that tastes so sweet you want to throw up.

Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2002
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The Rookie packshot
True life story of Jim Morris, the oldest rookie in major league baseball.
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Director: John Lee Hancock

Writer: Mike Rich

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Brian Cox, Angus T Jones, Beth Grant, Rick Gonzalez, Chad Lindberg, Angelo Spizzirri

Year: 2002

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


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