There are so many films that fail to achieve the utopian story of “follow your dreams and everything will just turn out wonderful, and everyone will be happy and satisfied.” They are often so exaggerated and cheesy that you can no longer see any real significance to the real world. Disney’s “The Rookie,” starring Dennis Quaid, could have easily been this type of film.
But, it is generally entertaining and uplifting, and although it is not over-the-top incredible, it does succeed at leaving you with an overall pleasant feeling. (note: If you love baseball, you’ll probably also love this film)
Taking place in Quaid’s native state of Texas, “The Rookie” is about Jimmy Morris (Trevor Morgan), a young boy with a passion for baseball. As he gets older, he develops an extraordinary ability to pitch incredible fastballs, but due to a lack of his father’s support and having to move around a lot due to his father’s job, he never gets his big break – or even realizes his talent.
After skipping years ahead to the middle-aged Jimmy Morris (Quaid), we find he is a high school science teacher who coaches the school’s unenthusiastic and half-serious baseball team. Due to a past injury, Morris had learned he could no longer pursue baseball as a career, so coaching seemed to be the next best choice.
But when he makes a deal with the team that if they win every game of the season, he will actually try out for something big, like the major leagues, he finds he also has something to live for, despite his age or lack of confidence.
“The Rookie” is a story of team success and personal fulfillment (“Rudy” and “The Mighty Ducks” come to mind), but unlike these films, this one focuses more on the coach, who eventually fulfills his dream. The team mutually benefits by a winning season, but their motivation lies in the fact that they want to see Morris win, which is an interesting twist to an otherwise typical storyline. Quaid brings a great deal to his character,
He is very believable, and he has just enough internal conflict to effectively engage the audience. The audience can see his initial doubt and lack of spirit, then can watch his development as he slowly realizes his dream.
A couple of the guys who play team members do a great job as supporting actors, especially the ones who push Coach Morris the most and really want to see his dream come true. Jay Hernandez (“Crazy/Beautiful”), who plays Joaquin, or “Wack,” stands out as one of the most supportive teammates who won’t let Coach step down from his promise. Hunter Morris (Angus T. Jones), Jimmy’s 5-year-old son who is always with his daddy and the team, is adorable, and he reveals that Morris is a great father who cares a lot about his family.
“The Rookie,” except for a few flaws, is a pretty satisfying film. The downfall is that there are few surprises, and it is somewhat predictable. Also, the scene that transitions Jimmy from a young boy to an adult is not as smooth as it could be – it seems too abrupt.
In addition, there is mythical legend about baseball in Texas that allows for an introduction to the story and a nice sweet conclusion, but it does nothing for the important stuff that occurs in between. Because of this, it is simply superfluous and somewhat distracting. But despite these drawbacks Quaid makes the movie worthwhile.