“It takes all 9 innings to reach home.”_ The Final Season _ Title: The Final Season

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The Final Season is a film as timeless as baseball itself and more than just a retelling of a lesser known sports feat. Is this a great film? No. But it is a film that touches on several emotions and you will find yourself enjoying it for what it is. Movies like Remember the Titans, Greatest Game Ever Played and Friday Night Lights raised the bar for this genre and it is tough to compete. But if you have a decent story and a way to tell it that is visually appealing you are off to a good start.

So let’s talk about what does work. The Story. Based on actual events in the small town of Norway Iowa and how the merging of two schools put in jeopardy a long standing state champion record. What is most impressive about the 1990 Varsity Norway Tigers is not so much their 19 straight state championships but the fact that the team was from a town with a population of only 586. This is a town that lives and breathes baseball and has seen generation after generation bring home the title. So when the school wants to merge with another larger school it threatens to take away the core of the town and their chance to win number 20.

Add to that the firing of the coach who led them to all those winnings, Jim Van Scoyoc (Powers Boothe) and replacing him with first time coach Kent Stock (Sean Astin) and all hope seems lost. But as you would expect, it is times like these that the players and town pull together to do what no one thinks possible.

So it is a motivating story and a sports event worth telling. The problem is that this film looks and feels like a made for cable feel good movie of the week. The first 20 minutes of this flick take a lot of patience to get through. It seemed like the actors where trying to get into their groove. It was very stiff and the writing was hallmark at best. Granted it eventually found some footing and the final half of the film is enjoyable but you have to really gear up to overlooking the bad writing and delivery. If you do will you find worthwhile nuggets popping out from time to time.

Powers Boothe fits the coach role perfectly and he is definitely the strong pillar in this film. Although there are other more notable names like Sean Astin, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Tom Arnold it is Boothe who, like the character he portrays, holds this group together. It is possibly the bond to this film that helped him to pull off the role. When talking about shooting the movie on the actual location Boothe says, “To me Baseball is a metaphor for life, and to walk on to that field, you felt like it was the real field of dreams. There is a purity to it all. The film is a very familiarly film.”

Maybe it is familiar on different levels. This film will reach people on several emotions. The small town setting took me back to my childhood and was a reminder of what other parts of this country still hold dear. So, yeah it is about baseball, but it is about much more.

The Final Season is Rated PG for language, thematic elements and some teen smoking. This film is perfect for your entire family and the values and lessons it teach are very seldom seen in cinema these days. It is hard to give a movie like this a low score because of the effort it takes to tell its story in a pure way. Fans of Facing the Giants will love this movie while those looking for a Field of Dreams may feel like they have been shut out. I give it a 2.75 out of 5 comebacks. I thank Hollywood for making a go at a film like this but as always I have to tell it like it is.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(10/12/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2007 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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