A review ofďThe RookieĒ by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: G for good for all ages

Run Time: 2 hour, 9 minutes

 

Disney bares its conventional side with this innocuous, triumph-over the-odds story that drips with old-fashioned goodness.

Itís never too late for dreams to come true.Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) is a man with a dream. A dream shared by millions of boys and men across America - the dream of playing major league baseball. Jimís reality is this: a wife, three kids, and the remnants of a minor-league pitching career that was derailed due to a shoulder injury.Jim teaches chemistry at his small-town Texas high school and coaches the baseball team on the side.But a dream is a dream, and Jim canít let go of his.He sneaks out late at night, throwing fastballs at a chain-link fence and fantasizing about being up front and center at Yankee Stadium.

The gods are smiling on Jim. Frustrated at his high school teamís lack of faith in themselves, Jim gives rousing, hard-nosed speeches about potential and perseverance.In return, the boys issue an ultimatum: we win the district championship and you audition for the major leagues.Naturally the team goes from worst to first, and Jim finds himself at a local tryout for the bigs, throwing 97-mile-per-hour fastballs that knock the trolling scouts on their ears.Jimís going to get his chance, and how.

This is high drama, Disney-style.A wing and a prayer and a hunky has-been pursuing his castle in the sky.Based on a true story, and melodramatically doctored up for the screen, the action is nonetheless creatively stagnant and a dollar short of inspirational.Of course Jim is going to get his shot. Of course heís going to walk out onto the diamond of a major league ballpark like the studly Cinderella that he is.Pinch me, please, Iím living my dream.

Thereís always room for imaginative G-rated fare, but this Iíve seen before.Quaid is charming as a man who wants more out of life, but his attributes are not enough to pull this out of the conventional doldrums and into tear-jerking ďRudyĒ territory.The kids are button-cute and precocious, the high school ball club Believes in their coach with a touching ferocity, and Jimís wife Lorrie (Rachel Griffiths) Supports her man while the bills mount sky high.All in the name of wholesome entertainment. Sigh.