the trailer for the rookie strains hard to produce the impression that it's hip and cool and, you know, exxxtreeeeeme!!!!!!! The big brains at the studio think that if they work really hard, "the kids" won't notice that it's a movie about a high school teacher/baseball coach (Dennis Quaid) living his dream and trying out for the majors in his late 30s. This is the wonderful world of brain-dead marketing.
The Rookie tells the true story of Jim Morris, who really did pitch two seasons in the majors in his late 30s. The movie goes for that Field Of Dreams vibe, setting itself in a small town that looks like the last picture show closed just years ago -- about the time the oil patch boom went bust -- and relying on that great reliable leading man, Dennis Quaid, as an exemplar of small-town values.
As what it is it's decent, not as achingly nostalgic as Field Of Dreams but not as deadeningly tedious as For Love Of The Game, which demands that we tap into the middle-aged angst of Kevin Costner's millionaire pitcher and his girlfriend troubles as he pitches his last game in Yankee Stadium.
You've got to really love baseball movies to get enthusiastic over this one, though. Director John Lee Hancock photographs Quaid as if he were sizing him up for Mount Rushmore, and Rachel Griffiths never comes close to a real Texas accent.
Speaking of Rachel Griffiths, has anyone ever seen her and Juliette Lewis in the same room?
the rookie directed by John Lee Hancock, written by Mike Rich, produced by Mark Johnson, Gordon Gray and Mark Ciardi, with Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez and Beth Grant. 129 minutes. A Buena Vista Pictures release. Opens Friday (March 29). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 78. Rating: NN