The Final Season
2007, PG, 114 min. Directed by David M. Evans. Starring Sean Astin, Powers Boothe, Rachael Leigh Cook, Michael Angarano, Tom Arnold, Mackenzie Astin, Marshall Bell.
REVIEWED By Toddy Burton, Fri., Oct. 12, 2007
The Final Season follows the story of a small-town high school baseball team. The 100-student school in Norway, Iowa (population just more than 500), is merging with a bigger school. While the principal (Bell) is all for it, the whole town is up in arms. The merger means the end of a team that never loses, and, with 19 consecutive state championships, the town is defined by its baseball. So the principal concocts a strange plan. He recruits a new coach who he believes will lead the team into a losing final season. All this will somehow make the merger more appealing to the townsfolk. Make sense? Doesn’t matter. Little does the principal know that the former girls volleyball coach he recruits (Astin) is actually exactly what the team needs to make their last season a winning one. Based on a true story, the raw elements of the film could potentially result in inspiring power drama. Kind of Hoosiers: Part 2. But the storytelling is so backassward that it’s impossible to care about any of the characters or really engage in the movie whatsoever. The main emphasis is on allowing the actors to really take their time in delivering such verbal gems as, "you might actually learn something [very pregnant pause], something important.” As executive producer of the film, Astin must have considered this a passion project. And there’s certainly a lot of passion to go around this colorful mess – just no character development or coherent storytelling. Additional plotlines include a love interest (Cook), a rebel (Angarano) who finds his way, and an aging coach (Boothe) struggling to pass the torch. Did I mention Tom Arnold makes a few appearances? The cinematography (by Dan Stoloff) plays like a beautiful Toyota commercial, with lots of boys running through fields and tractors resting against wide Midwestern skies. There are montages galore and a score that’s nearly nonstop. So, if I ever wondered what I should be feeling (which was frequent), there was plenty of music to let me know that, for the most part, I should be feeling inspired. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly enough to do the trick.