ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE ROOKIE (2002)


DIRECTOR  -  john lee hancock

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  family

LENGTH  -  129 minutes

RELEASED  -  29 march 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  walt disney pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the rookie

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $24,000,000
the rookie - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from the rookie at amazon.com

buy the dvd from the rookie at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
a texas baseball coach makes the major league after agreeing to try out if his high school team makes the playoffs.




MOVIE FACT:
dennis quaid did his own pitching, but as his pitching isn't as fast as the real jim morris, special effects were done to enhance it.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from the rookie

picture from the rookie

picture from the rookie



RATING:


three out of four possible stars

Saccarin, sentimental and stuck squarely in a 'g' rating, The Rookie presents a story with a simple message that's surprisingly enjoyable. Although the "believe in your dreams and they might just come true" theme for this movie is one that's been presented before, the main draw for The Rookie isn't in its story, but in lead star. Dennis Quaid has made his share of uninspiring movies, but this film shows that he can carry the emotional weight of a lead role in a drama. Oscar won't be calling quaid's name next year, but he seemed to make the most out of what the screenwriter gave him. And considering that the screenwriter's last outing in the hollywood marketplace was the uninspiring Finding Forrester, it's not surprising that The Rookie script placed a large amount of work on the actors.

Repeating dialogue and wording flowed freely page after page (or minute after minute) in this film and if not for some good luck with casting, this film would have resembled more the Disney Channel movie of the week type of film than a movie that belonged on the big screen. And speaking of big screens, the expansive texas vistas and long lingering shots that the cinematographer felt were a necessity had their impact compounded by the editor's willingness to let those shots carry on for quite a few seconds. And those grand views that were displayed in every scene caused this film to run more than two hours. And because the film jogs a fairly leisurely pace toward the finish line, those two hours drag a bit.

A film with a G rating is fairly restricted in what it can bring to the screen argument-wise and the lack of conflict between the characters worked in tandem with the long running time to create quite a lengthy pic. In fact, not only was there a lack of biting conflict, but Quaid's character never seemed to be in danger from any front. His relationship with his wife was fine for the most part; the scuttles there were few and far between. And the money problems the family had been having didn't seem to dire at any moment either. The strained relationship "Jimmy Morris" (quaid's character) had with his father wasn't tense enough. The slow Texas life represented in the film seemed to leak into the pace and feel of the story, because all the relationships and events affecting jimmy morris were muted.

Almost as if the filmmakers had decided that wide Texas vistas shot in a wide aspect ratio were more important than the character and substance of the film. This isn't strictly the fault of the script, but the emphasis on posing and theatrical "looks" between characters made the film seem longer than it probably was. From the sweeping cinematography to the lingering time spent on those cinematagraphic masterpieces, everything in this film moves to the beat of a really tired drummer. And in point of fact, the dialogue of the script could have been a little sharper. There were times when the words coming out of the characters' mouths seemed too obvious. And it became the responsibility of the actors to make the delivery of the lines more important than the lines themselves.

This isn't always an easy feat, but Dennis Quaid was successful most of the time in making his performance enjoyable to watch. But one his co-stars wasn't as interesting on the screen. Though her lines weren't the most amazing to begin with, Rachel Griffiths wasn't able to bring much life into her dialogue. She's had an impressive career thus far with her varied choices of roles, but she didn't seem to have a lot of chemistry with this role or with Dennis Quaid. In playing his wife, Griffiths seems more to read her lines off the page, so to speak, rather than breathe real life into them. Though there are other actors in this film that have more success in their roles.

Angus T. Jones, whose performance in See Spot Run was a great deal more annoying, plays Jimmy Morris's son. And in this film, Angus borders more on the cute than annoying. But just a note on Jones's age. In the film, he's supposed to play a nine year old, but he looks more like a six year old. This isn't a large hang-up for the film, but it's just a strange bit of casting. In any case, angus and the older kids featured in the script round out the cast well. As I stated before, the ability of most of the cast to overcome the weak dialogue (and somewhat of a weak story) was a major plus for this film.

And on a final note on the casting, the inclusion of a trio of actors who play the town noodle-heads, presented the best set of deliveries and comic relief in the film. They're a constant presence in the film and act as a sort of bell-weather for the tone of the film. Taken as a whole, this film presents a classic Disney story that will allow fans of baseball to sit back and enjoy a "heartwarming" telling of a true story. While the picture has its faults (mostly in pacing and writing), the characters of this film are entertaining, and in a G rated film, that element of "heartwarming fun" is probably the most important. This is a film filled with a lot of hope, and it's a nice break from the current impatient slate of films in release.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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