Let’s go back to our dull lives and search for meaning.
Director : Daniel Stern
Cast : Thomas Ian Nicholas, Amy Morton, Gary Busey, Bruce Altman, Albert Hall, Daniel Stern and Dan Hedaya
When they’re done right sports movies can be fantastic. Every sport has an exceptional film in a particular genre. Formula One has “Rush”, American Football has “Any Given Sunday”, ice hockey has “Mystery, Alaska”, and even bowls has “Blackball”. One sports genre that gets an abundance of entries is baseball, with 2011’s “Moneyball” even getting nominated for some Academy Awards”, but other than that there haven’t been a lot of exceptional baseball films.
The late-eighties and early-nineties were full of them. The “Major League” franchise, “Bull Durham”, “A Field of Dreams” and “A League of Their Own” all came out in quick succession and were all decent enough, but none of them were what you’d define as spectacular. One day I was browsing Netflix looking for a new film to review and I came across another baseball film from that era, and one that I remember from my youth, “Rookie of the Year”.
From what I remember it was enjoyable fun, but as I’ve pointed out several times on this site, what I remember as being fun in my childhood, doesn’t necessarily remain fun in adulthood.
Henry (Nicholas) is a very keen baseball player, but is very incompetent on the field. One day he is teased for his latest mistake, but to try to impress a girl he attempts to catch a throw. He slips on a stray baseball and breaks various parts of his arm. When he eventually gets out of his cast, he is gifted tickets to a Chicago Cubs game by his mother (Morton) and whilst there he goes to return a home run, but throws the ball more than 400 feet in less than two seconds.
His is immediately signed by the Cubs to be their new pitcher, much to the bewilderment of various professionals, most notably Chet (Busey), another pitcher that is coming to the end of his career. This isn’t helped when Henry’s first appearance goes horrendously, but he still wins over the fans as the Cubs go on an amazing winning streak.
With the success on the field coming thick and fast, it isn’t long before things off the field get a bit complicated.
As enjoyable as I remember from my childhood?
For anyone under the age of 13 this would be a very enjoyable film. It’s fun, not very serious and is relateable to people of those age, but for anyone else there are some major flaws throughout.
I’m going to start with one of my biggest gripes and that is that Henry is cheered on by the crowds, regardless of how well he is doing. Whilst this isn’t an issue with the Cubs fans, he gets cheered on at away games by the home team’s fans. Their fans are literally cheering an opposition player on to beating their own team. It makes no sense. Infact, it doesn’t seem to matter what Henry does, he gets cheered. In his very first match he throws three pitches, all of them atrociously, and yet gets cheered like a conquering hero at the end, with everyone citing him as saving the game.
That isn’t one of the only plot holes. For example, there is a plot point in the middle act of the film in which Henry’s mother is tricked into signing him up to a deal with the New York Yankees, yet they’re allowed to just pull out of the deal, or at least I assume so as after she realise what has happened it’s never mentioned again. I think this is one of several plot points that isn’t helped by the abrupt ending to the film. I’d also love to know how Henry landing on his shoulder (and you quite clearly see it is just his shoulder) can break his ulna…..for those that aren’t biologically knowledgeable, the ulna is one of the two main bones in your lower arm. It would be astronomically difficult to break your ulna by landing on your shoulder.
Away from the numerous plot issues, which believe me when I say I could happily continue for a while, the film has very little going for it. Whilst no-one acts badly, other than maybe Daniel Stern himself (playing a horrendous attempt at a comic relief character), no-one stands out as being good, and as much as Nicholas tries, it is really hard to get behind Henry because he is an irritating little twat, especially given that his voice is quite clearly in the process of breaking at the time that this movie was made.
“Rookie of the Year” is one of those films that will never go down as a classic. It is full of issues and is a poor attempt at telling a story that could have actually been interesting had it been done right.
There is nothing positively noteworthy that I can write about. It’s just a bad film.
Don’t waste your time.