|Movie Review of “Home Run” | Posted August 03, 2013
Like many boys, I grew up playing little league baseball. My father played baseball and coached my little league teams and he has been a very encouraging and supportive figure in my life. My dad recently shared a touching story with me and my brother as we returned home together on a three hour car ride from the funeral of my father’s uncle, my grandfather’s last surviving brother. My grandfather was an alcoholic. He spent most of his adult life away at the VFW in my dad’s small town where he grew up drinking with his friends instead of playing catch with his son or attending his baseball games and cheering on my dad. My dad wanted nothing more than his dad’s approval and sadly although my dad was an accomplished baseball player and made his little league all-star team, his father never once watched my dad play baseball. My heart ached when my dad told me this story, and the even sadder story is that my grandfather died when my father was 22 years old from an accidental fall down the steps related to his drinking.
With that context, I sat down to watch the movie “Home Run,” which released on DVD on July 23rd. The movie is a story that everyone can relate to, especially in our culture which lifts up our sports heroes and celebrities as the example of having “made it” in life. The “American way” seems to have been somewhat shaped by ESPN’s “Sports Center” version of “making it,” which is that if you are a star athlete, then you are the cream of the crop in society. In fact, the central character of the film, all-star professional baseball player Cory Brand, played by Scott Elrod, mentions that he is going home “to watch ESPN, and more ESPN” one evening when invited to an outing by a fellow little league baseball coach to a local community fair, the “Wild West Chili Fest.” Without spoiling the plot, that scene turns into a pivotal moment of the film as the main character starts to realize that there’s more to life than watching highlights of sports stars on television, which is one of the main points of the movie as a whole. That’s a key message as too much of our culture today seems wrapped up in how life is entertaining them, and they are not as much focused on how to serve and love people. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is counter-cultural, as Jesus proclaimed in John 15:11-13 (NKJV): “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
In the film, Cory’s dad was an alcoholic former professional baseball player who verbally abused his sons, Cory, and his brother Clay, played by James Devoti in the film. As happens in many families, alcoholism is passed down to the next generation, and Cory is also an alcoholic. His brother is a key figure in the film as he is a Christian and coaches his adopted son, Carlos, on the little league team in their small town in Oklahoma. After a DUI which injures his brother Clay, and 8 week baseball team suspension, Cory is forced to coach the little league team and spends 8 weeks in the small town’s only recovery program. That happens to be Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren’s initiated “Celebrate Recovery” Christian addictions program. That’s the redemption story which takes place the rest of the film, filled out by the other key characters, Cory’s childhood sweetheart and assistant little league coach, Emma Hargrove, played by Dorian Brown, her son Tyler, who plays on the little league team, and Clay’s wife Karen Brand, played by Nicole Leigh.
“Home Run” is a very well made faith-based film, rated PG-13. The movie is a great experience for families to share together, and amongst a faith community and small group Bible study gathering. The movie could also be used to witness to unsaved friends and family members, especially those struggling with addictions. “Celebrate Recovery” is perfectly highlighted and portrayed in the movie. Many will be able to identify with the reluctance of the film’s key character, all-star baseball player Cory Brand, with his struggle to give up his addictions, and his unwillingness to be open to the Gospel messages of Jesus, who came and died to set the addict free, and to save the lost. The really Good News of the Gospel and the film, is what Paul told the church in Galatians 5:13 (THE VOICE): “Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love.”
As someone who has watched his own father struggle with alcoholism to numb the pain of the rejection of his father, who died of alcoholism, this film is very moving. I have accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, and He has shown me that “freedom is possible,” the tagline for this movie. I highly recommend “Home Run” for the Church to celebrate the freedom that we have in Christ, and to know that any addiction, emotional pain or slavery to sin can be removed and made spotless by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus. This movie poignantly and movingly shows a modern day fallen hero’s road to redemption, paved by the Love of our Savior. That’s something worth celebrating!
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