Dennis Quaid Leads A Biopic Unable To Discover Real Drama


  • The Hill, a brand new sports activities biopic, lacks the depth wanted to really promote the inspiring story of minor league baseball participant Rickey Hill.
  • The film’s heavy-handed spiritual message clashes with Rickey’s journey, leaving his character underdeveloped and the story repetitive.
  • The Hill’s concentrate on religion overshadows its function as a sports activities film, leading to missed alternatives for impactful moments and erasing a lot of the stress and emotion.



This piece was written in the course of the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. With out the labor of the writers and actors at present on strike, the film being lined right here would not exist.

Previous to watching The Hill, the brand new inspirational sports activities biopic from director Jeff Celentano, I did not know something about minor league baseball participant Rickey Hill, an athlete whose story is about as much as be as hovering and epic as any of the most effective sports activities motion pictures. As the story goes, Rickey overcomes well being issues and the disapproval of his father to make it to the world {of professional} baseball, a fairly easy, almost definitely crowd-pleasing underdog arc. Sadly, although, The Hill lacks the depth wanted to essentially promote Rickey’s journey. Heavy-handed spiritual message apart, the film would not correctly promote the obstacles that lie in his method, and its refusal to deepen its central determine leaves the entire affair feeling hole.

Younger Rickey Hill (Jesse Berry), the son of gruff pastor James (Dennis Quaid), has huge goals of enjoying skilled baseball, and he is been gifted with unbelievable expertise on the subject of swinging a bat. It looks like his path is clearly marked, however there’s an issue. Identified with a degenerative spinal illness, he wears leg braces that hinder his motion and stop him from getting that full-body rotation usually employed by baseball gamers. James needs Rickey to desert his goals of being an athlete, however Rickey’s religion provides him sufficient hope to maintain pursuing it, particularly as he grows up (with actor Colin Ford taking up) and exhibits indicators of therapeutic. Nevertheless, proper when Rickey’s greatest alternative but arrives, his well being takes a flip for the more serious, plunging the aspiring participant into his fiercest struggle but.

Dennis Quaid in The Hill

The effectiveness of The Hill‘s faith-based story will differ for every viewers member. For me, I struggled with the way it clashed with Rickey’s journey. Exterior of his love of baseball and his robust sense of perception, he has no actual character to talk of. Within the early scenes, James’ struggles as a pastor take up more room than Rickey’s preliminary improvement, and even when The Hill lastly turns its consideration again to its younger protagonist and his journey, it settles right into a somewhat repetitive rhythm. Rickey’s energy as a participant lies inside his spectacular potential to hit constant home-runs, so The Hill solely ever exhibits him batting and being profitable at it. Celentano levels every second Rickey steps as much as bat in the identical actual method, taking the intrigue and pressure out of the second.

It is clear the film, written by Angelo Pizzo and Scott Marshall Smith (and based mostly on a screenplay by Aric Hornig and Stephen Hintz), has no real interest in genuinely exploring Rickey’s abilities and development as a participant. He is sensible from the beginning, as an obvious stranger tells him early on, and he stays sensible. It’s totally one-note. The Hill‘s battle comes from James’ objections and Rickey’s well being issues, however even then, these points will not be offered as being notably devastating. James capitulates to Rickey’s repeated insistence that it was his God-given future to play baseball a number of occasions, and even the element that James has by no means attended considered one of his son’s video games lacks emotional weight as a result of, outdoors of that, he appears decently supportive. In the meantime, Rickey’s degenerative spinal illness resurfaces when he is a younger grownup, however outdoors of individuals instantly saying he cannot play or stroll, there’s little indication it is a critical obstacle to his skills since Ford, who does his greatest to play a personality with little depth, cannot correctly convey his bodily disabilities.

Dennis Quaid, Joelle Carter, and Colin Ford in The Hill
Dennis Quaid, Joelle Carter, and Colin Ford in The Hill

Maybe one of many greatest points with The Hill is that it skips occasions that, one would assume, can be essentially the most impactful ones to see. Rickey taking off his braces for the primary time is not proven, however the viewers is handled to the second James realizes it in an awkwardly staged scene. Rickey’s first baseball tryouts and early practices are ignored in favor of prolonged moments the place he argues with James about God’s will. Religion is necessary to those characters, and that is nothing to be scoffed at. Nevertheless, The Hill‘s curiosity in being a faith-based film is at odds with its place as a sports activities biopic and normal character examine. By the top of the movie, Rickey continues to be a little bit of a thriller, as there’s a lot we do not learn about him. Each Ford and Berry play Rickey with a decent earnestness, however that is not sufficient to make up for the story’s shortcomings. Of the remainder of the solid, Quaid makes the strongest impression with a considerably contradictory character, although Bonnie Bedelia will get the following showiest function as Rickey’s opinionated grandmother.

General, The Hill is missing lots of the hallmarks one would anticipate from a sports activities film, pushing apart main occasions in favor of returning to its spiritual messaging. This results in some baffling selections in its character improvement and storytelling, and people in flip erase a lot of the stress and emotion from the film. Rickey actually has an fascinating journey, and there are moments when its energy could be felt. Sadly, they do not make up nearly all of The Hill‘s runtime.

The Hill releases in theaters Friday, August 25. It’s 126 minutes lengthy and rated PG for thematic content material, language, and smoking all through.

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