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Jim Morris never made it out of the minor leagues before a shoulder injury ended his pitching career twelve years ago. Now a married-with-children high-school chemistry teacher and baseball coach in Texas, Jim's team makes a deal with him: if they win the district championship, Jim will try out with a major-league organization. The bet proves incentive enough for the team, and they go from worst to first, making it to state for the first time in the history of the school. Jim, forced to live up to his end of the deal, is nearly laughed off the try-out field—until he gets onto the mound, where he confounds the scouts (and himself) by clocking successive 98 mph fastballs, good enough for a minor-league contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Jim's still got a lot of pitches to throw before he makes it to The Show, but with his big-league dreams revived, there's no telling where he could go.
For more about The Rookie and the The Rookie Blu-ray release, see the The Rookie Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 17, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Mike Rich
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Beth Grant, Angus T. Jones, Brian Cox
» See full cast & crew
The Rookie Blu-ray Review
A moving, inspirational, and real-life film gets called up to Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 17, 2008
If you don't have dreams you don't have anything.
As a lifelong fan of baseball, and a diehard follower of the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the sport, especially in its modern history. The story of Jim Morris is one of the best to come out of the sport in the last fifteen years, years filled with controversy and scandal that have nearly brought baseball to its knees. Fortunately, America's pastime continues to thrive and re-build its fan base, and hopefully the dark days of steroid abuse and player strikes will soon be no more than a footnote in the annals of baseball history, replaced by more uplifting and positive stories such as this one, for fans of the game as well as those who are not, this film is a winner. For all the negatives surrounding the sport in recent memory, perhaps no other story has epitomized what baseball is really all about, encompassing every emotion we feel from the first time we walk hand-in-hand with our father through the concourse and into the ballpark as the majestic view of the baseball diamond overloads our senses, to playing catch in the back yard, feelings never duplicated and always replicated every summer. Baseball, at its core, is about family, good people, and big dreams, all three of which The Rookie exemplifies and magnifies.
Describing The Rookie seems a bit of a superfluous exercise. Suffice it to say, it's about a man living his dream because others dared to dream with him, because they saw something special in him and pushed him when they didn't have to, only because they wanted to. It's about the circle of life, about good, wholesome principles and people, with a childhood dream displayed in full glory for all to see. Perhaps one scene best sums up the movie. In the opening minutes of the film, a young Jimmy Morris goes shopping for socks and "baseball stuff" when he arrives in Big Lake, Texas. The scene hearkens the viewer back to the day of simple life, friendly folks, and dreams as big as Texas itself. Like the rest of the movie, I found the scene touching and heartfelt, acted so innocently and smoothly, and filmed so plainly that it really did feel like two good, simple people in a store that you're watching from a perch above where the owners play dominoes, or perhaps from the vantage point of another customer, peering over a shelf of household tools and hardware. It feels like America, like anything but a scene in a movie. To me, that's the sign of perfect filmmaking, when reality and film are indistinguishable from one another. The Rookie is real life, in a way, telling the true story of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid, Flight of the Phoenix) who made it to the Major Leagues as a rookie at the age of 35, a time in players' lives when only the best don't begin considering retirement from the sport. With acting and direction first-rate all around, The Rookie is a movie that I find to be above reproach, one of my all time favorites about the good things in life, with America's pastime, baseball, playing second fiddle to a heartfelt and meaningful story of triumph and the human spirit.
There's no point in even trying to deny it: these feel-good baseball movies bring out the mushy side of me. I can't help but to tear up when Morris makes it to the Major Leagues, trotting out of the bullpen for the first time, or when Ray Kinsella gets to play catch with his dad at the end of Field of Dreams, or when Roy Hobbs shatters the park lights in The Natural. Baseball is a magical game, and it makes for magical movies too, and The Rookie is all the more incredible because it's true. Disney is the master of the feel-good sports story. Their recent football film Invincible is another rags-to-riches true-life sports story, and with both films, the studio has hit consecutive home runs, so to speak. Both movies are uplifting, with likable, easy to cheer for characters, a well-scripted and paced story, and fine, friendly, and straightforward direction. It's no secret how movies like The Rookie will end, but that's fine. The world needs brimming with positive ideals once in a while, and The Rookie ranks amongst the best of the genre.
Dennis Quaid delivers a fine, heartfelt performance as unlikely hero and Major Leaguer Jim Morris, but The Rookie is about so much more than a man. The movie is not just about Morris; it's about his family, his high school team, his minor and major league teammates, and it's about us. It's about us learning from and being inspired by Morris to reach for our dreams, live life to its fullest, and disregard those who say "no you can't." This is one of the most uplifting films of all time, and one of my favorites. It's refreshing and encouraging to see his team push him, and not just the other way around. This is a movie where everyone cares for one another and wants each other to succeed. Morris' high schoolers respect their coach, and he respects his team. When he arrives in the big leagues and sees his family for the first time in months, he looks like a kid whose just caught his first foul ball in the stands, met his favorite player, or hit his first home run in Little League. We don't care that Morris' team is losing the game, we care that he's lived his dream. They say there is no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in Morris. He's you and me, the everyman, who because of the love from people who didn't have to love him, who didn't have to push him, he arrived in the Major Leagues, living and fulfilling the dreams of millions of people, myself included. At the end of the day, it isn't just Morris out there on the mound--it's all of us, everyone who has ever dreamed big or dreamed small, and he's truly a role model for us all, and absolutely everything about this movie perfectly conveys his important, heartfelt, and even spiritual journey, allowing us to share in it with him and be part of the celebration of all that is good about life.
The Rookie Blu-ray, Video Quality
Disney winds up and delivers The Rookie to Blu-ray in a splendid 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 framed image that is clear, bright, and detailed. The image approaches reference quality (something that can be said of almost all Disney Blu-ray discs) and handles every locale with grace. Outdoor, sunlit scenes fare the best, but even those taking place under the bright stadium lights of the Ballpark in Arlington, or in the drab machine shop where Jimmy's dad works early in the film, look fine as well. The bright blue, crystal-clear sky marked by the big, beautiful clouds of west Texas looks as breathtaking as it does in real life. Flesh tones also appear natural in color and vibrancy. Black levels are deep and rich, staying true to the inky levels we've come to expect from first-rate transfers, perhaps best evidenced by a nighttime scene around the 18:30 mark in the film. The green of the grass, the colors of the different baseball uniforms, even the dust and dirt on the diamond are all reproduced on this disc with a high level of professionalism and excellence, making this easily the best I've ever seen this or any baseball movie look. The print is nearly flawless, free of most imperfections, save for small black and white speckles here and there, very minute and barely noticeable. There is also an ever slight bit of grain and shimmering in places. Despite these very minor blemishes, The Rookie brings a Major-League transfer safely to home on Blu-ray, one that is sure to please fans everywhere.
The Rookie Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's uncompressed 5.1 PCM audio track that accompanies The Rookie makes for a very respectable mix and listening experience. From the very beginning of the film, we're treated to some very nice minor ambience, as wind blows through the rear speakers. Throughout the film, we hear the dry sounds of West Texas, from birds chirping to insects singing. As the film picks up with the baseball sequences, the mix continues to create an immersive, realistic feeling atmosphere, especially when the action hits AA, AAA, and Major League ballparks. Music is pleasant and clean sounding. The down home country music soundtrack is marvelously reproduced. Of course, one of the best sounds in the world is that of a baseball hitting the leather of a well-worn glove, and that sound is nicely reproduced here. Dialogue is recreated with ease, sounding natural and pleasant, certainly never overbearing or harsh. There is only a bit of bass throughout the mix. The instance of good bass in the mix that comes most easily to mind is that of a vocalist that played over Morris' tryout, if memory serves. Obviously not as loud and active as action movie mixes, this one nevertheless does its job admirably enough, doing its part to bring us into this field of dreams of green grass, leather, wood, and magic.
The Rookie Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Rookie comes home on Blu-ray with a fine supplemental package. Leading things off is a commentary track featuring director John Lee Hanckock and actor Dennis Quaid. They discuss some good background information on the story, the filmmaking process, and even some Texas history for good measure. The duo provide some nice insights into the nuances of the filming process, describing several background locations that we don't really notice but that presented problems and challenges to the crew to make the film as realistic as possible. I really enjoyed this track as Quaid and Hancock delve into areas of the film that I didn't pay attention to at all as I viewed it.
Next up are eight deleted scenes (480p, 18:17), each with an introduction by director Hancock, and all well worth watching. He describes the cutting process, why he liked each scene, and why it had to be cut. Despite not appearing in high definition, I enjoyed watching these scenes. Spring Training (480p, 8:19) is a fun feature with the film's baseball coordinator, Mark Robert Ellis. He provides some tips on pitching, hitting, infield and outfield play, catching, and communication. This is geared more towards kids and reminds me of some features that I've seen on Fox during their pre-game show. Finally, The Inspirational Story of Jim Morris (480p, 20:37) looks at the real man in his own words, as well as the words of screenwriter Mike Rich, Director John Lee Hanckock, and actor Dennis Quaid, among others. All in all, this is a fine package of extras. I really enjoy hearing from the real-life people who serve as the inspirations for films (in this case Morris), so I was disappointed he was not involved in the commentary track. Nevertheless, fans of the movie will want to check out all of the features included on this disc.
The Rookie Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Rookie is a movie that has me inspired to work harder, live life a bit fuller, and encourage everyone I know to do their best and live out a dream. At the end of the day, as much as we may like to, most of us won't pitch in the Major Leagues, but that's alright. We're all gifted somehow, and watching The Rookie just might make you consider honing and bringing that gift out of the closet and integrating it into your life, adding a new dimension and understanding to who you are, what you do, and where you are headed. Whether you're a veteran when it comes to seeing this movie or you're playing the role of rookie, viewing it for the first time, the Blu-ray edition is a Hall of Famer. Providing excellent video and audio quality, not to mention supplements that go the distance, The Rookie on Blu-ray is a must-have for every collection. This is one of the greatest feel-good movies, ever, and definitely comes highly recommended!
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The Rookie Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Disney's The Rookie Comes to Blu-ray - December 13, 2007
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'The Rookie' to Blu-ray on March 4th. Video will be presented in 2.35:1 1080p and audio will be 5.1 PCM. Extras include audio commentary, Spring Training: Baseball Tips From The Pros featurette; ...
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