Dave's Rating:

3.5

… nice — though sometimes dull …

Who's in It: Nick Nolte, Trevor Morgan, Timothy Hutton, Sonia Feigelson, Sally Kirkland

Who's in It: Nick Nolte, Trevor Morgan, Timothy Hutton, Sonia Feigelson, Sally Kirkland

The Basics: A frequently drunk, terminally ill high-school-baseball umpire and the troubled, teenage pitcher he befriends in a last-ditch effort to be a decent father (he's permanently estranged from his bio-kid) works out well, because he lets the underage Bad News Bear drink beer at his house. OK, that's not the only reason they bond, but you know that if you were that kid, you'd say it was pretty high up on the Why I Hang Out With That Weird 57-Year-Old Guy list.

What's the Deal? This is a nice — though sometimes dull — movie about (essentially) nice people being nice to each other. Every character treats every other character gently, with understanding and patience. The teen baseball failure even takes afternoon-sunset walks with his younger sister. They talk about nothing, and he gently chides her into singing "Clementine." Small observations about life simmer to the surface, and nobody bonks anyone else over the head with any huge revelations. That means it's basically science-fiction.

His Picture Now Featured in Most Dictionaries Next to the Word "Grizzled": This makes the second movie this year to feature Nick Nolte as an irascible and gravel-voiced yet good-hearted mentor to a model-ish-ly attractive teenage boy. But unlike Peaceful Warrior, this one doesn't give off cascading waves of crazy sexual tension from start to finish.

Why You'll End Up Seeing This: Because you live in a midsize city with, like, one art-house theater, and that's what happens to be playing that week, and you're starved for any movie where people more or less behave like real human beings. Or because you find it on the Independent Film Channel a year from now. Or because you're hugely attached to the Intergenerational Life Lesson genre.

This Has Nothing to Do with the Movie: But Hutton plays the pitcher's own distant dad, and I realized while watching him that every time I see him in a movie I'm taken by surprise that he got older. I still only think of him as the suicidal kid from Ordinary People for some reason.

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