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In the poetic-baseball-movie tradition of Field of Dreams and The Natural, The Rookie is full of the golden glow of baseball diamonds at twilight, earnest men talking about their love of the game, and carefully engineered emotional moments. Inspired by the true story of pitcher Jim Morris, screenwriter Mike Rich develops familiar themes—the struggle of fathers and sons, second chances—as he portrays a high school coach in rural Texas who was once briefly in the major leagues. With his bad shoulder, Morris (played with understatement by Dennis Quaid) isn't supposed to throw, but he still sneaks out in the evening to practice. The kids on his team make him a deal: if they win the division, he'll have to try out again for the majors. They win, he tries out, and everyone's stunned that he's throwing faster than he did at 20. All the uplift could easily get cloying, but director John Lee Hancock knows how to keep things in control, and the whole is surprisingly satisfying. With Brian Cox. 129 min.

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