Movie review Stars: Scott Elrod, Dorian Brown, Vivica A. Fox Info: Running time: 93 minutes Rated PG-13 (for some mature thematic material)
The first rule of any baseball movie is that the guys cast to star in it have to look like they can play. And in "Home Run," Scott Elrod had the build, the swagger and the sweet swing of a big leaguer. That makes him and this thin tale of 12-step redemption credible and watchable, if nothing else. Elrod, a character actor who played a hunk hired to perform the fake film script in 'Argo,' here is a big-league slugger with alcohol problems and daddy issues. The booze we can see in his everyday routine - dumping out the soft drink, filling the cup with vodka. And the daddy problems we're shown in a prologue, when a young Cory Brand had to 'be a man' and take fastballs from his drunken, abusive father. It all blows up that day Cory's drunkenly called out after hitting what he thought was an inside-the-park home run. The tirade he tosses injures a batboy and earns him an eight-week suspension.
That forces his agent (Vivica A. Fox, terrific) to get creative. She packs him off to his hometown. But another screw-up - a DUI - adds to the mess. Now, he's got to go to 12-step 'Celebrate Recovery' meetings. And he has to coach his brother's Little League team. There's a disapproving sister-in-law (Nicole Leigh), a few star-struck Little League parents, and a fellow coach (Dorian Brown) who happens to have been Cory's high school sweetheart. And she has a son (Charles Henry Wyson) in need of a father figure. 'Home Run' is a conventional faith-based film built around Cory's coming to grips with his demons, making amends for his wrongs and finding religion. The cast does what it can to enliven that, but the 12-step meetings are too familiar to play as fresh and the film's leaden pace only makes us wonder how long it will be before we hear 'The Serenity Prayer.'