Thursday, 24 August 2023 18:11

The Hill Featured

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Movie Review by Jon Patch with 2 out of 4 Paws

The Hill

Vitamin A Films, Rescue Dog Productions and Briarcliff Entertainment present a PG, 126-minute, Biography, Drama, Sports film, directed by Jeff Celentano, written by Angelo Pizzo, Scott Marshall Smith and Aric Hornig with a theater release date of August 25, 2023.

James Hill (Dennis Quaid) is a pastor in a small town. He lives with his wife Helen (Joelle Carter) and her mother (Bonnie Bedelia) and their three children Robert (Mason Gillett), Rickey (Jesse Berry) who had issues with his leg bones and has to wear braces for support and sister Connie (Hailey Bithell). They live a poor life since the pastor was making very little money each month yet he led his family on the basis of prayer and belief in God. Rickey at such a young age in the 60’s had a dream of one day becoming a major league baseball player. He could actually hit every rock with a stick clear over the trees but his father had other plans for Rickey and it wasn’t to be a ball player. James hoped that Rickey would follow in his footsteps and become a pastor as well.

Eventually the family relocated to a small town called Bowie in Texas where even more so Rickey wanted to play ball with the neighborhood little league but his father was still not for it. Yet some in the town had faith in Rickey and believed he would one day be a major league player and without his leg braces Rickey wanted that more than ever. Even though his father was against him playing ball in fear of his legs getting worse his Gram and mother and siblings were on his side along with several townspeople. As Rickey (Colin Ford) grew up into a teen he continued to play ball even though his father would never attend to watch but his childhood girlfriend Gracie Shantz (Siena Bjornerud) now all grown up has shown up to support Rickey as did his older brother Robert (Ryan Dinning) and his sister Connie (Carina Worm). Since the film is based on a true story you may have heard of Rickey Hill but if not, it is still a good idea to check out what happened when Rickey approached the try-outs for the Major League.

I have to say I enjoyed the story even though the film seems more like a Netflix film rather than a film for the big screen. It is definitely a faith-based story but don’t let that stop some of you from seeing it thinking it would be all about religion. Yes, religion is there but the story and the miracles of Rickey Hill out shine your two hours in church. It is a simple story that has some editing issues and some mediocre writing but it definitely has a great score and the focus on the children young and old is what will keep your attention.

Ford is definitely a young actor to watch in the future but young Rickey, Berry, is even more superb. Quaid does a nice job as the pastor but for some reason I felt that he was a bit off at times. Carter does not have many lines but Bedelia does and for some reason I thought her playing a grandmother was just not hitting the mark for me. Young and old Robert, Gillett and Dinning are great as supporting roles as is the older Connie, Worm, but I did see the younger Connie, Bithell, looking off to the side or at the camera at times. So, there are a few mishaps that should have been edited out but overall, the film is worth watching and, in the end, will probably bring a tear to your eyes. I don’t think the big screen life will be long but I think it will find its audience in streaming. Farm animals are depicted in the background scenes but that’s about it when it comes to animals used in the story.

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