I really don’t have a lot to say about Dennis Quaid’s new movie, The Rookie. It’s a fairly entertaining movie even if you don’t like baseball because it’s not so much about baseball as it is about a man getting a second chance at doing something he loves — in this case, playing professional baseball. Since it’s a true story, and in order to hype the film as such, the movie’s producers, actors, and all those involved have sold the movie to the general public as a true story, which means everyone interested in a movie like this pretty much knows how it’s going to end. The catch is seeing how it gets there.
The Rookie stars Dennis Quaid as the real-life Jimmy Morris, a 30-something high school science teacher who believes, as does everyone around him, that his chance for greatness has passed. After a long career in the minors filled with injury and heartache, Jimmy has retired to the small Texas town of Big Lake, which is neither big or has a lake, to live a quiet life. He has three kids, two cute precocious almost-teens and a toddler, and he has a loving wife in high school counselor Lorrie (Rachel Griffiths). Life is good for Jimmy, only he can’t quite let go of his dream of playing pro ball, but he’s practical enough to keep this little dream a secret, hidden from everyone including his wife.
Then one day, while trying to encourage his baseball team (Jimmy also coaches the high school baseball team), Jimmy is roped into making a deal with his players: If they win division, he’ll try out for a pro team. Jimmy has no intentions of doing so, but he’ll be damn if his rag-tag team of players actually does win district! And now Jimmy has to suck up his courage and try out for a pro team in nearby San Angelo…
Of course you all know how it’s going to end. Jimmy will make it to the minors, then get called up to the majors. There’s no surprise there, since if you like sports, you’ve probably read about Jimmy or seen interviews with him years before this movie came out. All that being said, is the movie version of Jimmy’s life any good?
Oh sure, it’s a good movie. Inspiring as all get-out (as we like to say in Texas) and it’s certainly an entertaining yarn. The movie is actually split in two Acts, one focusing on Jimmy’s life in Texas and his baseball team, and the second focusing on his trials and tribulations as he soldiers his way through the minors, never sure if he belongs or if he’s deserting his family back in Texas. Dennis Quaid, who has always been an athletic actor, is believable in the baseball scenes, and Rachel Griffiths, as Jimmy’s long-suffering wife Lorrie, is a good compliment to him. She’s been there all along as he suffers one setback after another, and she’s not quite sure if she can suffer through another one.
The movie does a great job of casting Jimmy’s kids, especially 8-year old Hunter (Angus T. Jones), who is just adorable and cute throughout. Jimmy’s high school baseball players are not as well realized. The kids sort of look the same, although some are Hispanic, others black and white. Unfortunately I couldn’t really tell them apart or even their names, despite some of the kids having pretty weird hair. They just weren’t interesting enough.
The movie has a subplot involving Jimmy and his estranged father, a Navy officer who has always been too practical and never a supporter of Jimmy’s dreams. I don’t know if the real-life father and son were so much at odds, since filmmakers just loves to pump up certain aspects of a person’s life, no matter how minor, in order to inject “drama” into a movie. Whatever the case, Jimmy’s relationship with his father certainly permeates most of the movie’s drama.
The Rookie is a good film, but it’s not exactly a baseball film. It’s not a surprise how it’s going to end, but it is a surprise that it actually happened.
John Lee Hancock (director) / Mike Rich (screenplay)
CAST: Dennis Quaid …. Jimmy Morris
Rachel Griffiths …. Lorrie
Jay Hernandez …. Joaquin ‘Wack’ Campos
Beth Grant …. Olline
Brian Cox …. Jim Morris, Sr.