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Overall Rating
3.76

Awesome42.11%
Worth A Look: 31.58%
Average: 5.26%
Pretty Bad: 2.63%
Total Crap: 18.42%

1 review, 32 user ratings


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Pitcher and the Pin-Up
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by Erik Childress

"Stealing Forrest Gump"
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: Two topics that can easily stir my soul into an emotional frenzy are baseball and unrequited love. The national pastime and one man’s longing combined into a single story session should have no problems putting my approval light on autopilot. So much so that there’s a certain heartache involved when I have to report my unwavering dissatisfaction with a project that could have easily skirted by on keeping it simple enough to just massage two of my greatest thematic and life passions. The Road Home is so desperately trying to tell its tale that it fails to win any magic points even by borrowing aspects of two films that were able to get it right.

Not to imply that films can’t co-exist by exploring the same subject matter, but three can be a crowd when the current doesn’t connect in the same way. In 1994 we were introduced to Forrest Gump and Jenny; a couple that met as children and remained best friends throughout the years. Even in going their separate ways and reuniting from time-to-time past the backdrops of famous historical events, Forrest maintained his affection for the one who could never love him back the way he wanted her too.

Six years earlier, far fewer people met Billy Wyatt and Katie Chandler. They were the heart and soul of a little movie called Stealing Home and played by Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster. Critics didn’t respond to it and it went relatively unchecked by audiences, but if you quiz your friends today, chances are 1-in-3 have seen it and share the same affinity for it that I did. It was about a young boy and his evolving friendship with the older girl next door over the years. He had a passion for baseball and the film is told in flashback as he returns home to confront her suicide. Seeing the film at 5 AM before going to grade school had a more lasting effect on me than what I saw in The Road Home.

It stars writer/director Drew Johnson as Danny Foster who tells a story in flashback about how he met the childhood sweetheart that he could never put the move on. And when I say tell a story, I mean tell it. For the first 20 minutes, barely a scene can go by without Danny giving us the full skinny. This isn’t a setup as much as it is a shut-up that any screenwriting teacher would advise against. He’s got so much to tell that it should come as no surprise later in the film when Danny is struck unconscious, another guy takes up the narrating duties as if he were Denzel Washington with the flag in Glory.

That childhood sweetheart, Melissa Curtis (Corinna Harney-Jones) is as sweet as they come, but clueless to the point of flashing, wiggling signals that the guys she falls for are jerks compared to the one who is always there for her. “Whenever I write a poem I feel like it’s only for you,” she says while laying directly on top of him. In my experience, best friends or not, if you’re not making a move at THAT point, you’re either gay or dead. The beaus she does respond to include a rock star who after proposing to her just to break into her chastity belt, gets her into Playboy (a rather condescending touch considering Harney was Playmate of the Year 1992). In following the Jenny Curan blueprint, she’s also got an abusive father (John Saxon) and a desire to write poetry to match Jenny’s pursuit of folk singing. Not to mention her own Playboy spread.

Danny & Melissa each go through their ups-and-downs while he pines for her and reminds us all how much he thinks about her by either narrating it or ritualizing the writing of her initials in the pitching mound. After all as Melissa notes, “poetry and baseball go together” (kinda like peas & carrots.) As if picking up where Winston Groom and Robert Zemeckis left off, the passage of time is marked with Ronald Reagan, the hostage crisis, the Challenger disaster and the Berlin Wall coming down. Thank God the movie ends three years before 2001 and their “lives can be changed forever.” Again.

There’s clearly a heart in the right place through all of this, but like in love the upper neurons are in shutdown. The appreciation for baseball on display is admirable from allusions to The Natural (both the term “wonderboy” AND Wilford Brimley are briefly on display like the poster in Danny’s room) to a character paying tribute to Kirk Gibson after hitting a game-winning homer. But then don’t overdo it with an opening and closing shot of approaching car headlights (a la Field of Dreams) or jamming home metaphors like “baseball is like life, you lose more than you win” or “baseball’s a metaphor for life, you’re always trying to get home. Right now you’re stuck on second base.” (Except he never actually got to first with Melissa.) Don’t even get me started on Bo Hopkins’ embarrassing turn as the manager or the scout with the seemingly magically cursed deck of cards. Plus, what player wouldn’t know the difference between the dynamics of a wood and aluminum bat? What team, after winning an important game, just runs off the field like any ol’ inning? The Slugger’s Wife had more believability.

Johnson overplays the “aw, shucks, gee whiz” past the point of believability; a performance which is already overcome by the level of falseness that most of the scenes already lowers itself to. Starting early on with Danny pulling her father’s gun (a cop’s gun) on him to protect her right up to the end, the dialogue is hackneyed and obvious only to the wheels of the plot. Consider this late exchange between Danny and Melissa’s dad:

“I lost her once. I imagine that’s how you feel today.”
“How would you know how I feel? How would you know anything?”
“You had a gun on me once.”
“I feel like I lost her too.”

I wouldn’t let him psychoanalyze anymore than I would I let him drive considering what happened to Melissa’s mother and how he treats a golf kart with a pregnant passenger. Harney fares better even through the dimensions of her character. It’d be nice to see her in future roles that can utilize her likability to a better degree. And since Keri Russell doesn’t seem to be getting work these days, maybe Harney can step right in and fulfill her shoes.

It’s been awhile since I have seen Stealing Home and maybe it hasn’t stood the test of time with my cynical emotions, but at least it connected with me and I remember it fondly to this day. The Road Home never clicked with me even when I was trying to embrace it through its “Rudy”-esque score and questions like “Could she ever love me like I love her or were we destined to be best friends?” Even set in the world of baseball, I was stunned how less I could care to know the answer to that question.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7872&reviewer=198
originally posted: 06/25/03 07:22:02
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2003 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/18/14 apwqsk USA 2 stars
11/27/13 Chris Loved the movie. We have watched it more thank once. We love baseball. 5 stars
2/15/10 JImmyD Loved it! It felt lik eI was living it with him. 5 stars
7/26/05 Sam Walters I really enjoyed this movie!! I liked how the story was told and were it led to. 4 stars
7/21/05 Andrea I love it, this movies makes u love a guy who isn't even that good looking :-) 5 stars
6/27/05 Monica Afalava wow! it was alove story that was out of this world! it's LOVE and BASEBALL. 5 stars
6/25/05 Andrew W. I enjoyed the movie- genuine in nature- even got a little teary eyed- Refreshing.. 5 stars
6/25/05 Mambo A great film - a sweet story - genuine heart 5 stars
6/23/05 Matt Petersen The movie isn't great - But Corinna Harney-Jones is becoming a real talent - more please! 3 stars
6/20/05 dorinda egizio Great. Loved it. 5 stars
6/19/05 Jeff Rivera Corinna Jones makes a star-making debut in this touching film. 5 stars
6/18/05 Bruce Arnold Good time for an American-Baseball love story with no war 4 stars
6/17/05 George Stealing Forrest Gump is right, but there's more than a handful of good moments here. 4 stars
6/16/05 WILLIAM P. FOWLER SR. G R E A T 5 stars
6/16/05 Ryan Wiebe One of my favorite baseball romance movies of all time 5 stars
6/14/05 Dana Geragosian LOVED the movie... very genuine... unlike most of Hollywood. 5 stars
6/12/05 Gary It's a good movie 4 stars
6/12/05 Connie Abbott Heartwarming 4 stars
6/12/05 Louise Christie Heartily enjoyed the movie. True to life. 5 stars
6/11/05 Christie Burr LOVED IT! Great Romance, inspiring baseball, that reviewer is off his head! 5 stars
3/23/04 Sean American sap, but good sap 4 stars
2/24/04 Jerry Ludmann Where can I buy this film 3 stars
1/01/04 Ryan Its a movie about the reality of life, its not made up 5 stars
8/05/03 Dave For a First Film it's very very good 5 stars
7/03/03 James I really liked the film. I felt enamoured by the story line. Wish it never ended. 5 stars
6/29/03 Paul Carlson Entertaining, down to earth, a trip to the 70's, good story of growing up in love and life 4 stars
6/28/03 Danny Very Forrest Gump but very Good 4 stars
6/27/03 Louise Christie Engaging, sweet, great family entertainment 4 stars
6/27/03 George Sweet story 4 stars
6/27/03 Houser Great love story, great baseball 4 stars
6/27/03 Mary Burrows It's a good film, don't listen to Mr. Childress 4 stars
6/27/03 dslacker Unoriginal, poorly written, badly acted mess. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Jun-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005

UK
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