Audio commentary - Dir. John Lee Hancock & Act. Dennis Quaid
Featurette - The Inspirational Story
The Rookie (2002)
Buena Vista/Buena Vista .
R4 . COLOR . 122 mins .
G . PAL
What exactly is it that has caused me to become a sentimental dork ever since having my first kid? I’ve noticed since then that I’m far more prone to the odd bout of “eyeball leakage” during a particularly emotional moment in a film. Sure, mine could be classified as a “my-team-just-lost-emotion”, and not your average “sooky-sooky-la-la-I-feel-worthless emotion”, but regardless, since my kid was born it has been like my inner-person has discovered that I’m not such a hard-arse-couldn’t-give-a-shit kind of person anymore.
Let me set the scene for you, just so you can picture in your own mind how pathetic this can be. It’s the middle of the afternoon, the blinds are drawn to darken the room and I’m sitting in my recliner with my little boy in my lap. He’s laying back with a bottle of milk, I’m sucking down a bottle of beer and stuffing my face with Cheezels (the newer cheeseburger flavour – very nice).
Right! Who let one rip while my mouth was open?!
I’m watching The Rookie, a nice, slow but very enjoyable film starring Dennis Quaid as a high school teacher who tries out for the majors at the age when most athletes are retiring. He’s got this killer fastball that travels at 98mph, something only a handful of people can match.
He doubts his ability to make the cut, but he made a promise to his students that if they won a district baseball championship, he’d try out for the majors just like he’s always wanted. They win, so he keeps his word, never confident that he’ll even get a look in.
Seriously! That really, really stinks bad.
His serious ex-army dad thinks he should pull his head in, his wife wants him to take a good teaching position, but he wants to show his students that he’s keeping his side of the bargain, and heck, it sure feels good to pitch like a God intended him to.
So, I’m already a bit tired from the night before because my boy woke up in the middle of the night, I’ve had a beer or three so I’m a little relaxed and I’m feeling a bit sick from having eaten the whole box of Cheezels (it was my lunch, after all).
Pwoar! What the Hell did you eat??
Then comes along this manipulative little emotional scene, and suddenly I feel my eyes fill with clear, salty liquid. “What the hell’s going on here?” I ask myself. Could this film be making me a bit misty? Am I really that easily manipulated by some subtle string-pulling in a film? Then there’s another emotional bit a few minutes later, and BAM! I feel this liquid start to make its way down my cheek. Then, a bit later, another scene pulls all the right strings and WHAM! both of my eyes are filling up and the overflow is now streaming down my cheeks.
My little boy has by this time drifted off to sleep, my wife is at work, and I’m sitting in my chair drinking beer and eating Cheezels and having a good sook at this movie about baseball. How bloody sad am I?
But it’s not my fault. See, they made a good film, the bastards. They cast Dennis Quaid because he’s such an All-American person, so likable and damn when he smiles he lights up the screen. Forget Tom Cruise and his fake Hollywood smile, Quaid gets the award for the best movie smile, hands down. And when he’s sad, or a bit emotional about something he’s told, you feel that emotion with him. Like I said, it’s not sooky emotion, it's the emotion you get when a friend tells you someone just scratched his new XR6 Turbo. You want to hug your friend then go out and bash the bastard who did it.
Okay, that's it! I'm outta here, ya bunch of stinkin' freaks!
And the story, well, like someone says in the documentary, if they had made it up it wouldn’t have worked because no-one would believe it. But it’s a true story, and it works as a film. It’s easy going, the characters are good, the film finds a nice balance between the love of the sport and the love of a family, and the whole “believe in your dreams” thing just makes you feel so damn good.
But that’s enough from me, I’m having trouble seeing the computer screen through this watery stuff that’s starting to fill my eyes again.
You know what’s nice? It’s nice to see a nice film have a nice picture with a nice transfer to DVD. It has nice colours with nice warm hues and a pleasing nice tone across the settings. It has nice photography, with some nice composition to make the most of the sight of a lonely pitcher lobbing balls into a distant net. It’s nice and clear and it’s nicely compressed, with barely a flaw to wreck the niceness. Yes, this film, with a nice 2.35:1 aspect ratio and nice 16:9 enhancement, is very… now what’s the word I’m looking for?... hmmm… nice .
Carrying on this “nice” theme, is the DD 5.1 audio mix, which is nice, but not really nice, just nice. It lacks a little oomph, or pizzazz, but maybe it doesn’t really call for it anyway, seeing as the film is a gentle slow going affair. It does overdo the effect of the ball travelling through the air during Quaid’s fast pitching, giving it a bit of a ‘made for television’ sound, which is odd considering they were made by the Oscar winning sound designer of U-571. Otherwise the effect is simple, clear and balanced, with the obvious minor boost when we get to the big stadium later on in the story. Some dialogue will have you leaning in a little closer to hear, but it’s nothing too bad.
Audio Commentary – Director John Lee Hancock & Actor Dennis Quaid
A chatty Hancock keeps this one active, doing most of the talking about scenes and production, while Quaid only pipes up every now and then with the odd brief comment. I wouldn't put this down as a "must listen" commentary, more of a "eh, I got nothin' better to do" commentary.
Featurette – The Inspirational Story (20:36)
This being a true story, this featurette looks at the events through the eyes of the people there, including the real Jim Morris, who goes through the motions of reliving the occasion of his first real successful pitch in the Big League. Like the film, this is pleasant and easy going, and it’s nice to see the effects it had on real people. Big hugs all around!
There’s a total of seven deleted scenes to browse through, all with an introduction from the director who discusses the scenes and the reasons for dropping them. Some could have quite easily been left in, but the running time is already quite long, so something had to go.
The Rookie is a winner of a film for me, which is something considering the distance we have to the subject matter of baseball. What should have been a dull and overlong excursion into another country’s national pastime is instead an uplifting and appealing film, because it’s really the story of just your average person doing something they’ve been told they’re too old to do and succeeding.
You could do far worse than pick this up for an easygoing movie night at home.