Sunday, April 20, 2008

Movie Review: "The Final Season"

I did something yesterday that I very seldom do: I bought a dvd movie without having ever seen the movie. But if you live in Iowa it's your duty to buy any Iowa movies. "The Final Season" is definitely an Iowa movie. It's filmed in Iowa, about Iowa, and I watched it in Iowa!

It tells the true story of the 1991 high school baseball team of little Norway Iowa. Norway takes baseball seriously. Despite having a population of only 586, Norway produced 16 professional ballplayers and had won 19 state high school championships in 25 years, by the beginning of the film. Much of their success was owed to longtime coach Jim Van Scoyoc.

Coach Van Scoyoc is portrayed by crusty actor Powers Boothe, who you may know from TV's "Deadwood," but I know from two of my favorite movies: "Red Dawn" and "Southern Comfort." Before Von Scoyoc can lead the boys to their twentieth state championship, it is announced that the Norway school will be closed (by a bunch of bureaucrats which the film goes out of its way to portray as heartless meanies) and merged with a larger school nearby. In order to crush the spirit of the small town and to condition it for assimilation into the bigger down, the school board sacks Coach Von Scoyoc and replaces him with rookie coach Kent Stock, a former girls volleyball coach.

Coach Stock is portrayed by Goony turned hobbit Sean Astin, who's other sports movie was "Rudy." Rather than "drop the ball" and lead the team to defeat, as the school board hoped, Coach Stock rallies the team and leads them into one memorable final season. I won't tell you everything that happens.

Iowa native and Roseanne Barr's former boy-toy Tom Arnold has a small part in the film and manages not to ruin it. That old guy with a deep, gravelly voice, that I've seen in many films from "Cold Mountain" to "Cabin Boy," also has a part. So do Rachel Leigh Cook and young actor Michael Angarano and some of my wife's cousins appear as extras in the crowd scenes (see if you can pick them out).

The movie was filmed in and around Cedar Rapids Iowa, so us folks in the NE part of the state have been following the film on our nightly news since it was in preproduction.

While it's not as good as the seminal Iowa baseball flick "Field of Dreams," "The Final Season" is still worth seeing. If you're an Iowan, ofcourse, you HAVE to see it, or possibly face a firing squad (and they can't even give you a last cigarette anymore).

1 comment:

Taxation without Representation said...

Not to nitpick, but a firing squad would most likely not be operating in a bar or restaraurant. As long as the shooting took place at least 50 feet from the entrance of a building, I think you could have a last cigarette.