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By Herb Kane | April 11, 2002

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Roger Ebert (, Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper and The Movies” – Buena Vista TV), Joyce Kulhawik (“Hot Ticket” – Paramount Domestic TV), Michæl Dequina (, Joe Leydon ( ^ * * * * (our of 5 stars)
I loved “Field of Dreams” and “For Love of The Game” (both starring Kevin Kostner) – and now The Rookie finally presents us with a new face in baseball film – Dennis Quaid. Will he strike out or perform like a pro?
The Rookie is based on the true-life story Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) who dropped out of minor league baseball due to injuries. Twelve years later he’s coaching a high-school baseball team and inspires them to go after their dreams. The team inspires him right back and a heartwarming story unfolds as we watch a man chase an almost impossible dream.
Roger Ebert ( said about the film: “It may confuse those who, because they like the characters, think it is good. It is not good. It is skillful. Learning the difference between good movies and skillful ones is an early step in becoming a moviegoer.
For the love of God, Roger! You’re not just a moviegoer, you’re a seasoned film critic and you still didn’t get this film right. On “Ebert & Roeper and The Movies” (Buena Vista TV), he also complains, “We’ve seen this before.”
Listen. I’m not going to deny the clichés in this movie, but the film is based on a true story. Ebert demonstrates here how a skillfully written review can be so inept. Co-host, Richard Roeper, got it right: “I think it’s a well-written, well-acted sports movie. Yeah, we’ve seen it before and usually not done this well.”
“Hot Ticket” TV hosts Leonard Maltin and Joyce Kulhawik both liked the film. Kulhawik said, “Is it possible that Dennis Quaid is getting younger? This is a terrific part for him. He’s actually older in real life than the man whom this story was based on.”
I noticed that, too. Quaid, 48, looks very young and healthy. His appearance is impressive, but some critics don’t think so.
Michæl Dequina ( said, “It becomes apparent why Quaid never achieved the major stardom for which he had once been groomed. He’s a perfectly capable and likable actor, but he doesn’t exactly have an onscreen persona that pops.”
Michæl, I think his persona lights up the screen! Quaid is no rookie in this film – he’s a real pro. Joe Leydon ( got it right: “But the lion’s share of the credit must go to Quaid, one of the most under-rated yet consistently reliable actors at work in contemporary cinema. He never hits a false note while illuminating various facets of Jim’s character.”
This movie worked because of Quaid and a wonderful cast of supporting actors. A movie this predictable would normally fail, but good writing and good acting saved it.
Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper and The Movies”) summed the movie up best: “I thought ‘The Rookie’ could have benefited from a quicker pace…but I did appreciate the authentic feel of the baseball scenes and the terrific acting…this is really a rare G-rated movie suitable for all viewers.”
The Rookie is now my third favorite baseball movie – thanks to Dennis Quaid’s professional performance and Jim Morris’ inspiring true life story. ^ -CRITIC DOCTOR
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