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Thursday, May 16, 2013 09:31 am

Home Run rife with errors

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It really comes as no surprise that faith-based dramas have found a devoted following. Films such as Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous answer a need with their life-affirming messages as the product from Hollywood seldom supplies such themes. I have no problem with the intent of these movies or those who embrace them. I just wish they were better made and not so heavy-handed in the way they deliver their message of redemption through Christianity.

The latest entry in this subgenre, Home Run, is a little better than most, thanks in large part to the winning performance of its lead actor and the efforts of the director, who keeps this woefully predictable story moving at a brisk pace. The lost soul at the center of this tale of salvation is Cory Brand (Scott Elrod), a major league baseball player who’s been able to keep his alcoholism under wraps, despite the fact that he’s had numerous run-ins with the law and more than a few embarrassing moments in the spotlight. However, his latest takes the cake as he injures an honorary batboy during an on-field tirade, an act that leads to an eight week suspension. His agent Helene (Vivica A. Fox), a master at damage control, convinces him to head back to his hometown of Tulsa, Okla. to get his head on straight and enter a 12-step addiction recovery program. Brand is resistant to do so, even after he gets into a car accident with his brother, which forces him to take over the Little League team his sibling coaches.

A big part of the problem with Home Run, and other films of this sort, is that they simply don’t know when to quit. Bad enough that Brand has to contend with being exiled to the sticks and forced to go through a recovery program, but do the four screenwriters responsible have to pile on the car accident as well as a subplot involving his old high school flame who just happens to be a single mom as well as the co-coach of the team he’s set to manage? Overstuffed stories like this stretch and ultimately break the laws of credibility. This makes it far too easy for viewers to scoff not only at the ridiculous nature of the plot but also the film’s message, well intended as it might be.

Yet, as insincere and obvious as the movie is, Elrod is genuine and engaging. A bit player up until this point, the actor not only brings a sense of much needed charisma to Brand but he also looks like a ballplayer, taking convincing swings when at bat and looking as at home on a ball field as a tick on a dog. The actor shows us how Brand has been able to charm his way out of one jam after another but also brings a convincing sense of anguish when he confronts his demons. Elrod deserves far better than this and here’s hoping that in the future he’s given a script that favors a subtle approach in delivering its message rather than a sledgehammer.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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