Final Season, The (2007)

Rated: PG
Length: 118 minutes
Grade: CBBC=C
Budget: Unavailable, but probably very low.
Box Office: $1.1 million U.S., $0 million Intl., $1.2 million DVD

Directed by: David M. Evans, who previously made Sandlot 1 and 2, First Kid, Radio Flyer, Wilder Days, and Beethoven’s 3rd and 4th.
Written by: Art D’Alessandro and James Grayford, neither of whom has written anything notable before.
Starring: Sean Astin, Powers Boothe, Rachel Leigh Cook, Tom Arnold, James Gammon, and Larry Miller.

The school board of Norway, Iowa has decided to merge Norway High School into the much larger Madison High in order to save money, but this will mean the likely end to a decades-long tradition of outstanding youth baseball. During the last year of the program, an untested coach takes over for a legend and tries to win Norway’s 20th State Championship in this true story of a small town.

Entertainment Value: C
Being a movie about small-town baseball and underdog stories, you’d think I would have enjoyed it more. But I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine. But that’s not really enough given the plethora of outstanding sports movies one could choose from. Maybe the problem is they tried to make it too much like life, and it came off a bit undecided about whether to be a documentary or a movie.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality A, Violence B, Language B
There are a few scenes with alcohol, some mention of marijuana, and some smoking of cigars. There are also a couple of fistfights and some wholesome romance. But the real disappointment of the movie was the language, which certainly wasn’t awful but was enough to rightly make it PG.

Significant Content: B
Small towns offer something special and healthy and are the ideal place to raise families and teach good values. Baseball is a community endeavor and the true American sport. Educational decisions made entirely on the basis of financial concerns will rarely be the best ones.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
The one thing about this movie that made me angry was that it could easily have been made G rated if they had just tried a little harder. Given the wealth of other good family values in the movie, the decision to include swearing and drugs baffled me. Another problem here was that the main “villain” never seems to have motives that explain his behavior.

Discussion Questions:
~What parts of this movie seem realistic, and what parts seem unrealistic to you? How does your knowledge of this being a true story influence the believability of it?
~How important was sports to you growing up? How important is sports in your community? Does sport bring people together where you live? How important is it for a place to have only one or two sports for them to have such a unifying effect?
~What are the advantages of living in a small town and what of living in a large city?
~What does this movie have to say about honesty and plain talk? Is it fair to say that small town folk are more prone to these things?
~“Baseball is 80% defense.” What does this phrase mean, especially for smaller kids, and how does the concept apply to real life?

Overall Grade: C
This is a movie that I wish I could have liked a lot more. And on top of everything else, it takes place in Cardinals country, with Sean Astin and all the kids wearing St. Louis caps. But after that it was mostly just okay.

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