Director David Boyd and a largely unknown cast attempt to make an enjoyable family movie about coping with alcoholism and other problems. Can a Christian movie approach this issue in an entertaining way while incorporating the quality of a secular movie from Hollywood? The answer is mostly yes in Home Run, with a few strong performances and a moving story about a baseball player looking to confront his problems. Home Run doesn’t hit it out of the park but does reach second base with a double to the gap.
Cory Brand (Scott Elrod) is a famous all-star at baseball, making millions at the game’s highest level. Though he can hit better than everyone else, Cory has issues with anger management and alcoholism. In a fit of rage after a homer is taken away from him for missing a base, Cory inadvertently hits the bat-boy in the face. He is suspended from playing for eight weeks and his agent, Helene (Vivica A. Fox), comes up with a plan to rehabilitate Cory’s image. Cory continues to drink excessively, even sneaking it into his soda. Driving with his estranged brother back to their small hometown of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, Cory gets into a terrible car crash that seriously injures his brother.
Helene sets Cory up in a faith-based, 12-step program for addicts, Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is an actual program outside of this movie and Home Run at times works as an introduction to the Christian treatment program. As a PR stunt, Helene also has Cory manage his brother’s little league team back in their small hometown, the one Cory left out of high school and never looked back.
It would not be much of a story if there wasn’t something unusual about this setup. Cory’s old high school flame and the mother of his only son, Emma (Dorian Brown), happens to be a coach on the same little league team the star has agreed to take over for his brother. Did I mention his only son Tyler is also on the team, though the kid is not aware his actual father is Cory? One can easily see where the melodrama of the remaining story comes from. Cory has to struggle with his personal demons while trying to woo his old flame and get to know his son. It is a very personal journey for Cory, with more downs than ups.
Home Run is not completely predictable as a story; Cory as the protagonist goes through more struggles with his alcoholism than expected. There are dual running threads throughout Home Run competing for attention, the first being Cory’s tentative relationship with Emma and Tyler. On a separate track are his attempts to sober up through the help of the Celebrate Recovery program and deal with his issues. The two story-lines are somewhat intertwined but the middle section drags as it switches between them.
Home Run is solid entertainment for Christian audiences, particularly for men. Marketed as family fare, I do not think children will have much interest in the story or its tale of adult problems. It is less a story about baseball and more a story about forgiveness and redemption.
The best aspect of the entire production is clearly Home Run’s ultra-clean picture quality, courtesy of the Red One digital camera. Aside from brief glimpses of stock footage from inside a baseball stadium, Home Run presents a crystal-clear image with startling clarity. The noiseless, sharp image does reek of being a digital production, but its consistency and pristine nature continue to impress as the movie develops.
Director David Boyd did double duty on Home Run, also acting as his own DP. Boyd clearly shows he knows his way around a Red One camera. Home Run regularly extracts the best type of pure resolution and maximum detail, only possible in perfectly-lit, tight close-ups. Though the compositions occasionally leave something to be desired, the 1.78:1 presentation feels cramped and congested at times. Colors are rendered in a neutral balance with perfect contrast and strong black levels.
For an independent production, Home Run hits a home run for picture quality that easily clears the wall. It falls slightly short of the best Hollywood Blu-rays but should please almost anyone. Millennium Media has given the Blu-ray a great AVC video encode, averaging 19.67 Mbps. There are no compression artifacts in the flawless 1080P video.
Home Run has a pedestrian soundtrack, dominated by a maudlin, sentimental score and predictable music. The musical compositions by Scott Allan Matthews serve their purpose in the story but are not memorable outside the context of the film. Home Run is not a movie driven by action or audio pyrotechnics, so the largely subdued presentation is ably represented by a competent 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. It’s not a huge bass monster and ambiance is light at best.
The lossless audio has clear dialogue and mildly discrete events, though Home Run rarely becomes adventurous in the rear surround channels. Fidelity is clean and typical for a new audio recording. A few moments provide an opportunity to impress, such as the car crash.
A stereo 2.0 Dolby Digital mix at 256 kbps is also included. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are offered in a white font.
Millennium Media has dug up a few extra features for Home Run, most notably video introductions preceding the movie by MLB players Ben Zobrist and Brett Butler. A slipcover is included during the first pressing.
Brett Butler (01:41 in SD) and Ben Zobrist (00:42 in SD) Introduction – The two players briefly talk about what the movie means to them and how it might help others. Butler has been retired for a number of years but Zobrist is a current star for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Previews – The following trailers are all skippable, which precede the main menu: Brooklyn Castle (03:06 in HD), When Calls The Heart (02:15 in HD), Upside Down (02:31 in HD), Mindless Behavior (02:19 in HD).
Around The Bases (06:50 in SD) – The cast and crew are featured in brief interviews during this featurette. Discussion centers on Celebrate Recovery’s influence and message in the movie from behind the scenes. Dorian Brown and other members of the cast talk about their roles in the story.
Freedom Is Possible (04:22 in SD) – A group of Christian ministers and pastors individually discuss the movie and its possible influence on society in this featurette.
Baseball Superstars Praise Home Run (03:00 in SD) – This mini-feature only features text quotes from current and past MLB players supporting the movie. Players such as R.A. Dickey and Andy Pettitte are cited.
National Center For Fathering (02:15 in SD) – A promo for an institution devoted to positive fatherhood and encouraging its growth.
Be A Dad (01:00 in SD) – A strange, wordless commercial showing various fathers playing with their children. This is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel for inclusion.
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