Scott Elrod, Dorian Brown, Vivica Fox, Charles Henry Wyson, James Devoti, Nicole Leigh
Brian Brightly, Melanie Wistar, Eric Newman and Candace Lee
Samuel Goldwyn Co.
Freedom is possible.
Cory Brand (Scott Elrod, Argo) is a hotshot baseball player with the perfect life.
He's also an alcoholic. It's the latter fact about Brand that gets him into trouble when a high profile DUI arrest lands him in a bunch of trouble and attracting more bad publicity than his team is willing to endure. Initially, Brand just wants to do whatever it will take to get back with the team. So, he initially fakes his way through a treatment program back in his hometown while also agreeing to coach the local little league team and, on the side, trying to light some sparks with an old flame (Dorian Brown) who has never been impressed with his partying ways.
But, freedom is possible.
Home Run is likely the film that most people of faith who have ever struggled with substance abuse issues have been hoping would come around. The rated PG-13 film isn't exactly what I'd consider to be hardcore, but it is honest and heartfelt in looking at the roots of addiction and the true miracle that's needed to begin discovering freedom. There is a formula contained within Home Run, but faith is at the heart of that formula and it works thanks to the film's terrific cast.
Scott Elrod, seen recently in the Best Picture winner Argo, gives a balanced and authentic performance as Cory Brand. Elrod does a terrific job of making us see Brand's dark side without making us turn against him. He's a good guy or, at the least, there's a good guy inside him trying desperately to get out. There's an ugly side to addiction, and Home Run doesn't shy away from it. Fortunately, the film also doesn't glorify it as is all too common in films dealing with the subject matter. It says quite a bit about Elrod as a performer that he's as convincing as a little league coach as he is when he's the party animal ballplayer.
That's what really gives you hope as you watch his story unfolds. You can see the potential and Elrod makes you believe it.
As his old flame and potential love interest, Dorian Brown is left with a fairly one-note character but she plays that one note quite well. Brown's Emma is appropriately cynical yet exudes the sort of faith that lets you know that she can be won over under the right circumstances. Hollywood fave Vivica Fox makes a terrific appearance here as Brand's protective agent, a woman who also seems to see more in Brand than he sees in himself. While there's an obvious thread of self-interest, Fox embodies Helene as a no nonsense agent who is going to do whatever it takes to get Brand back in the game.
Even the kids in the film do a nice job, with Charles Henry Wyson shining particularly brightly. Wyson, whom you may recognize from his turn as a young Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, gives a heartfelt and honest performance as one of the younger ballplayers.
With both Provident Films and Samuel Goldwyn Co. involved in the film's distribution, you can be sure that production quality is top notch across the board. Director David Boyd also serves as D.P. for the film, and fans of the television series Firefly may remember Boyd as the cinematographer for that short-lived yet beloved series. Boyd is also the D.P. on the series The Walking Dead and lensed the film Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. All of this may very well explain why Home Run is such a visually appealing film, with intimate close-ups during the film's more revealing scenes and yet an aura of hope that radiates from the film even in its darkest moments. Boyd seems to have a natural sense about just when to linger in a scene and when it's time to turn away, a gift that allows the film to have quite the emotional resonance. The film also includes a memorable original soundtrack from artists familiar to Christian music fans including Third Day and others.
Ultimately a story about transformation and redemption, Home Run manages to tell a story of addiction while putting the emphasis on the power of God to transform and redeem anyone, anytime, anywhere. It's a film about second chances and third chances and beyond. It's a film that realistically portrays the challenges that face many people of faith on a daily basis, but then says "Surrender."
Freedom is possible.
Home Run hits theaters on April 19th. If you really want to see more films like this one in your local cinema, you won't say "I'll catch it on DVD." You'll head on out to your local theater and support the cast, crew and the studios releasing the film.
For more information, visit the film's website linked to in the credits on the left!
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic