In The Final Season, high school baseball gives a small town its pride and identity. And quells teenage rebellion. And helps foster two separate romances. And cures cancer. Okay, maybe not that last one, but were David Mickey Evans’s film to depict the national pastime as an FDA-approved balm for everything that ails everyone, it would be perfectly in keeping with its overly schmaltzy veneration for the game. Though based on a true story, this severely corny tale is, in fact, largely fiction save for its basic narrative outline, in which the Norway, Iowa Tigers endeavor to win their 20th state championship in the final year of the school’s existence. For reasons never properly explained, an evil school board bigshot decides that Norway and a neighboring county will merge their schools, a highly unpopular decision in the tight-knit Iowa community (pop. 586). Then, the villain decides to compound the difficult transition by sabotaging the club’s 1991 swan-song season by firing decorated manager Jim Van Scoyoc (Powers Boothe) and replacing him with inexperienced assistant skipper (and former volleyball coach) Kent Stock (Sean Astin). The ensuing raft of sports clichés, trite melodrama, and crummy in-game action are made more intolerable by Evans’s lackluster direction and a score that boasts all the subtlety of a 95-mile-an-hour heater to the forehead. With both Astin and his real-life bro Mackenzie (as Stock’s assistant) in the Norway dugout, Final Season boasts what would have been, 20 years ago, a bona fide Tiger Beat dream team. There’s nothing dreamy about Astin’s futile attempts to carry the story’s inspirational and amorous loads, the latter via his relationship with Rachel Leigh Cook’s state official. In fairness, his performance is ultimately no more ham-fisted than the script’s stale glorification of the rural at the expense of the urban, or Michael Angarano’s pale imitation of Jackie Earle Haley’s Bad News Bears badass Kelly Leak. But that’s only because every element of the film is more or less equally awful.
- Yari Film Group
- 113 min
- David M. Evans
- Art D'Alessandro, James Grayford
- Sean Astin, Powers Boothe, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tom Arnold, Mackenzie Astin
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