A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rookie of the Year is a goofy '90s family comedy in which a 12-year-old becomes a star pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and takes them to playoff glory. Strong language includes "s--t" and "hell," plus a moment where "f--k" is strongly implied (but not said). You can also expect lots of name-calling along the lines of "funky butt lovin'," "big butt," "underwear sniffer," and "you suck." A tween boy describes a tween girl as being "stacked." Henry's mom punches a sleazy manager in the face. Characters smoke cigars and cigarettes briefly, and adults drink cocktails at a club. Henry's lucrative endorsement deals include some product placement. Despite the movie's unrealistic premise, it has positive messages about the importance of family and friends, and Henry shows that he has integrity by choosing those he loves over the glamour of life as a professional athlete.
What's the story?
In ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, the Chicago Cubs are facing another dismal season. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Henry (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a terrible Little League player whose mother is dating a sleazy guy named Jack (Bruce Altman). Trying to show off, Henry breaks his arm, and the tendons heal a little tight. The result is a 100+ mph fastball. After the Cubs' general manager sees him throw, Henry is recruited to pitch in the big leagues, where grumpy veteran pitcher Chet Stetman (Gary Busey) has to teach the boy to pitch. Henry's mom falls for Chet, and sleazy Jack isn't happy. Jack has also arranged to sell Henry to the Yankees so he can collect a huge fee. Will everything work out for Henry and the Cubs?
Is it any good?
Silliness fills to the brim -- and occasionally slops over the sides of -- this good-natured sports fantasy. Rookie of the Year sticks close to the established kids' sports movie formula: Single-parent mom works out dating issues; other kids are initially hurt by their friend's success but end up supporting him; and, of course, everything builds to the big game. But this movie has such a good time playing out the inevitable that you can't help but enjoy yourself.
Much of the fun comes from the strong supporting cast. Busey plays Chet with just the right mix of grumpiness and warmth. John Candy portrays the lovable blowhard baseball announcer with gusto. And first-time director Daniel Stern injects the movie with over-the-top comic relief both from in front of and behind the camera. It helps, too, that kids will like and identify with Henry, the dork in way over his head. Anyone who's stood, scared to death, in front of their class will understand the intense pressure he feels when he first steps on the mound.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how realistic Rookie of the Year is. Does this movie seem like other wacky sports movies you've seen before? How does it compare?
Can movies that are formulaic still be entertaining? Why or why not? What is suspension of disbelief? How does it help you enjoy movies like this one?
How did you feel about the strong language in the movie? Do you think it was necessary to the story?
- In theaters: July 7, 1993
- On DVD or streaming: January 29, 2002
- Cast: Albert Hall, Gary Busey, Thomas Ian Nicholas
- Director: Daniel Stern
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and martial arts, Friendship, Great boy role models, Middle school, Misfits and underdogs
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.