A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Final Season has some inappropriate content for the movie's target market -- 8-10-year-olds. One of the movie's central characters, high school student Mitch, acts out because of his mother's recent death. He smokes cigarettes, tries to get some pot, and steals his grandfather's truck. But baseball eventually helps set him back on the right path. There are some intense moments when the team's bus goes off the road in an accident, kids get injured by baseballs, and there's some fighting among the boys. Language includes some fairly strong terms, including "s--t."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A heartwarming underdog tale based on a true story, THE FINAL SEASON is set in small town of Norway, Iowa, where baseball is more than a tradition. It's even more than a religion. It's everything to these people: The whole town turns out for the high school team's practices, and the town sign features a baseball diamond. "Baseball is as rich as Iowa soil," explains head coach Jim Van Scoyoc (Powers Boothe). "We grow ball players here like we grow corn." With 19 state championships to its credit, the Norway High team is hoping for an even 20 when the axe comes down. The school district is merging with the district next door, where, parents fear, their star players won't even make the team. And without baseball, the town could die out. Given one last season to make their mark and seal their legacy, smarmy school district chief Harvey Makepeace (Marshall Bell) fires multi-award-winning Van Scoyoc and replaces him with former girls volleyball coach Kent Stock (Sean Astin). Can Stock motivate the dejected team and lead them to their final, glorious win?
Is it any good?
What The Final Season does well is remind viewers why they love the game so much. It's not just that it's fun to watch and takes courage, tenacity, and endurance. It's that baseball -- and other sports -- have saved legions of kids from self-destructive behavior by giving them a place to put their energy and loving support for what they do. It's Field of Dreams goes to high school -- or Friday Night Lights about baseball.
The final game is likely to leave both kid and adult baseball fans screaming at the screen -- much like they do at playoff games. And zany newspaper reporter Roger Dempsey (the incorrigible Larry Miller) lightens what could easily be a far too schlocky and serious film. All of that said, if you're not a baseball fan, The Final Season probably isn't for you. The jargon and heavy-handed sentimentality can be too much, and you get the feeling that the story might have been white-washed just a bit (the real-life Van Scoyoc and Stock both consulted on the film). The movie insists that everything bad comes from the big city and that small-town life is free of drugs, violence, and alienation. For anyone who's ever been bullied by a jock or lived the not-so-rosy parts of small-town life, this depiction is likely to come off as naïve at best.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that this particular tale was based on a true story -- how much of what you see on screen do you think actually happened the way it's portrayed?
Talk about Mitch's reaction to his mother's death. Do your kids know anyone whose parents have died? How did they respond? You can use this as an opportunity to allay their fears.
- In theaters: October 11, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2008
- Cast: Michael Angarano, Sean Astin, Tom Arnold
- Director: David M. Evans
- Studio: Yari Film Group
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language, thematic elements and some teen smoking.
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