Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2011 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // December 22nd, 2011
"When one door closes, God opens another -- and I may have found that door."
Some days, things go very wrong for minor league baseball manager Arthur Murphy (Dean Cain, Lois and Clark). However, the day in which he drove two hundred miles to Indiana to check out a prospect who'd already been signed and drove his car into a ditch wasn't one of them. Instead, it was the day he met Mickey Tussler (Luke Schroder) and saw the young man's perfect pitches as he threw apples to the pigs on the family farm.
A Mile in His Shoes, adapted from a novel by Frank Nappi, follows Mickey, a baseball player with Asperger's syndrome, through a season on the Clayton, Ohio, River Rats. The novel in turn, according to the DVD blurb, was "based on a true story." It originally was seen on the Gospel Music Channel.
Director William Dear excels at showing the challenges Mickey faces on the mound, giving the viewers glimpses of what's going on his mind -- he's often imagining himself back on the farm to block out the noisy crowd -- as he pitches. Between the shots of Mickey freezing as he leaves the locker room and the literal blur of activity he sees on the field, Mickey's fear is made visible in an effective way when he first arrives in Clayton. Viewers get to feel the fear with Mickey, and these touches go a long way toward making the movie.
The story goes on to center around Mickey, who gets upset when his first knuckleball goes wild; Murph, who constantly is coming up with tricks to keep Mickey focused, such as painting an apple on the catcher's glove; and Pee Wee (Jarod Joseph, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), Mickey's roommate and teammate, who takes on the challenge of getting Mickey up to speed socially with the River Rats. All three actors give very believable performances.
In the making-of featurette, Dear (for whom this was his fourth movie about baseball) says he was drawn to the personal nature of the story. Throughout the film, he keeps the focus on Mickey, but manages to establish the subplots well in just a few scenes: the reluctance Mickey's father (George Canyon, Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day) has to let his son play baseball, a jealous rival pitcher, and Murph's own personal crisis of faith.
A Mile in His Shoes is clearly a Christian film, with characters often seen praying and reading the Bible. Dear lobs the religious aspects over the plate, rather than throwing a fastball that could split a bat (as Mickey does at one point). The movie is a gentle one all around, although there is one scene of suggested violence.
There's also a postcard-sized print of the Thomas Kinkade painting, A Mile in His Shoes, included. The trailer sets up the story well, although it does seem schmaltzier than the actual movie.
If you're even remotely looking for a good Christian film or a feel-good sports story, look no further. You'll enjoy walking A Mile in His Shoes.
Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG