The Rookie - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 3.0 Stars
Comments: Slightly above average tale about an average man chasing an almost impossible dream.
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Trevor Morgan, Brian Cox, Beth Grant
Written By: Mike Rich
Rated: G
Running Time: 2 hr : 9 min
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, Ecclesiates 4:9-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Some dreams never die. In the case of Jimmy Morris of The Rookie, they just get pushed aside to make room for the responsibilities and obligations that are a part of growing up. Based on a true story, The Rookie tells the story of a man who rekindles his dream of playing in the big leagues at an age when most are thinking of retiring.

We first meet Jimmy (Trevor Morgan, The Glass House) as a young boy who, like most young boys, has fantasies of one day of pitching in the World Series. Every dream comes with obstacles and in Jimmy's case, his is a stern, military minded father with no time to entertain his son's "foolishness." Because his father must move from assignment to assignment, Jimmy has no opportunity to establish roots. Baseball is his only constant although he never stays long enough in one place to finish a season.

The family finally settles down in Big Lake, Texas, a community with surprising little interest in the national pastime. Jimmy spends much of his day simply pitching balls into a fence and dreaming of infield grass and stadium noise.

Time passes to find Jimmy (Dennis Quaid, Frequency) with a wife (Rachel Griffiths, Hilary and Jackie) and three children. Now a high school chemistry teacher and baseball coach for the school's team of talented underachievers, Jimmy is resigned to the fact that his big league opportunities have long since passed him by.

After seeing his fast ball one day at batting practice, Jimmy's team makes a deal with him. If they become district champs, he must try out for a major league team. Seems like a safe bet seeing as the Owls have lost their first two games. But the deal inspires them and they begin winning. Sixteen games later, Jimmy has to make good on his promise. And if the scouts like what they see, he's going to have a big decision to make... Follow the dream by working through the underpaid minor leagues or stay in Big Lake and continue to provide for his family.

Dennis Quaid handles that inner conflict well. Jimmy is a man who loves the game of baseball almost as much as he loves his wife and family. But as played by Quaid, it is clear where his priorities lie. That he is presented as being such a decent man makes us want to root for him all the more.

Rachel Griffiths finds a nice balance as Jimmy's supportive and levelheaded wife, Lori. She recognizes the financial hardships that come with tracing a dream but at the same time realizes that not following through on a dream causes other kinds of hardships. Together, Griffiths and Quaid portray a real, loving, and mutually supportive marriage relationship.

Director John Lee Hancock, perhaps best known for his screenplay adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and screenwriter Mike Rich (Finding Forrester) do lay the schmaltz on a bit thickly. The inclusion of a "local legend" which is attributed to belief in St. Rita, the patron saint of impossible dreams, is an idea that doesn't quite work. The strained relationship and eventual reconciliation between father and son is predictably handled. But, to their credit, they do replicate the small town flavor of a community bound together by the personal heroics of one of their own.

The way the people important to Jimmy rallied around him, encouraging and exhorting him to go forward to achieve his goals was indeed inspiring. It is exactly how members in the body of Christ are to help one another as they proceed in one accord through this life. A man who is part of a larger community feeds from the support, counsel and resources of the group. He is in a much stronger position to succeed than the man who is alone, trying to accomplish the same things with only himself upon which to rely.

That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (KJV)

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