Case Number 19947: Small Claims Court


Broken Sky Films // 2009 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // October 20th, 2010

The Charge

"I'm a force our team can't afford to be without." -- Calvin Marshall

The Case

Calvin Marshall starts off like your typical baseball underdog story, showing the college athlete teaching kids the game, then moving on to a workout montage that includes Calvin Marshall running the bases alone, and then shows him struggling in a tryout where the coach is advised to "Just cut him now." He doesn't exactly make the team, and hides the fact by pointing to an injury.

Even so, in the first half hour, you'll probably be expecting some quirk of fate that'll put Calvin on the spot so he can show what he's really made of, saving the day and leading his team to victory.

You would, of course, be wrong.

The key moment in the movie comes when the coach, himself a failed pro, tells Calvin: "You're the most delusional player that I've ever met. You're an embarrassment to the sport." It's not something Calvin's going to overcome, at least not on the baseball field.

Calvin Marshall avoids baseball movie clichés, turning into a story about giving up and moving on for Calvin and his girlfriend, who actually is a star athlete on the volleyball court. The performances are good, most notably Alex Frost (Drillbit Taylor) as the dreamer Calvin and Steve Zahn (Daddy Day Care) as Coach Doug Little, who heaps profanity on his players and seems permanently attached to a barstool, yet shows signs of caring about his team and his sport. Brief appearances by Cynthia Watros (Lost) and Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) round things out. The story is well-executed and heartfelt, although the coach's profanity and a brief make-out scene do more to distract from the story than flesh it out.

The movie, shot in Oregon, looks and sounds good on my screener disc, except for a glitch around the 16-minute mark.

Still, I'm divided about this one. There's a reason for baseball movie clichés: People like 'em. It's human nature (or at least my nature) to want to see the underdog succeed, especially in rough times. There's something sad about seeing a well-drawn character set up to fail. It's touching, but some of you will want the cornball stuff anyway.

If you're not attached to the familiar happy ending, though, Calvin Marshall is a decent little movie, and there are hints of small triumphs at the end. You might want to rent it.

The Verdict

Not guilty. It does what it sets out to do, whether you're in the mood to appreciate it or not.

Review content copyright © 2010 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile
Studio: Broken Sky Films
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* None

Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb