Monday, February 10, 2014

"The Road Home" aka "Pitcher and the Pin-Up"

Pitcher and the Pin-Up”, also titled “The Road Home”, a 2003 film for Sony Affinity by Drew Johnson, seems reasonably inspirational given that MLB spring training is about to start.  The alternate title is a bit confusing, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
  
Drew Johnson plays Danny Foster, a very gifted college baseball player in Long Beach, CA.  He can both pitch like Stephen Strasburg and hit like Bryce Harper.  Remember that Babe Ruth was once a pitcher, and switched so he could hit every day?  The film takes the position that Danny can start every day and attempt a no-hitter, and that isn’t very realistic, even in college.  Drew would have been about 30 when filming himself in this role.
  
He also has a boyhood best girl friend Melissa (Corinna Harney-Jones) who has taken to a life not completely commensurate with Danny’s Christian upbringing, performing in bars.  But he still wants the relationship.  I think toward the end, when there is a pregnancy, a baby, a separation, and a reunion, the story narrative gets a but confused.  Maybe some deleted scenes need to be restored. Sometimes, toward the end, the tone of the film seems rushed and hysterical. 

There’s another plot threat.  Danny teaches Paul (David Burr, if I’ve parsed the cast correctly) to hit, and Paul becomes an outstanding player quickly.  When Danny is struck by a batted line drive (like Herb Score for the Cleveland Indians in 1957, by a line drive from Gil McDougal for the Yankees playing in Cleveland) and is hospitalized in critical condition with brain swelling, Paul wins the game with a walk-off homer.  Melissa’s love helps Danny make an unbelievable recovery, and he is able to return to baseball in about a year. 
  
Wilfred Brimley appears as a manager. 
  
Mark Parrish (“Mustang Sally”. “Jerome’s Razor”), whom I know, is listed as Rob Martinez.  I did not notice any lines from him (are they in deleted scenes?)  but I caught sight of him as a teammate twice in the movie.
   
I watched the film from Netflix instant, not from a DVD.  It runs 104 minutes, but I suspect a lot of scenes were cut.
  
The alternate title “The Road Home” seems to come from a book of poems that Melissa writes.  At one point, she says she sold twenty copies.  Was the book self-published?  That would be an interesting angle for me with my “Do Ask, Do Tell” books.
  
  
In 2001, Sony Pictures Classics released another film called “The Road Home” (“Wo de fu qin mu qin”), from China, by Zhang Yimou, about a man who returns to the countryside village from the city when his father dies.  The film would sound important now given recent news stories about China’s busting up villages for new development, and their idea of filial piety.  I remember seeing that at Landmark Lagoon in Minneapolis. 
  
I don’t know if the alternate title was used because of this other film, but normally it is acceptable in the movie business for the different films to have the same title, unless the title is a trademarked franchise series (like “Harry Potter” or “Star Wars”).    In this case, the same company (Sony) seems to have distributed both films, but under different brand imprints.  “Affinity” is often used for Christian films. 

Picture: Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, playing Seattle, in Aug. 2010.  

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