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on October 6, 2015
From the same director of “The Sandlot”, David Mickey Evans, comes a less widely known, yet inspirational movie, “The Final Season.” “The Final Season” is an emotion packed film that brings out the various qualities of a small town, such as its appeal but also its complications.

The movie is about a baseball team in Iowa that has won the state championship 19 times and is aiming for their 20th. With the threat of their small school merging with the larger one next door, the team wants to make history in their final season by being the only team who has ever won a state championship in their last year. In addition to that challenge the replacement of the coach calls for the team to adjust.

Sean Astin, who plays the new coach of the baseball team, executes a captivating performance, much like his involvement in the movie “Rudy”. Astin acts much like an older brother in the movie, in the beginning he proves he can still play when he challenges the team by saying he can hit off their best pitcher. Astin’s acting will have you reminiscing about the good old times with your siblings. Along with Astin, Powers Boothe plays another major character. Boothe plays an older character whom the whole town knows and admires. He uses a tone when he talks and acts that make him appear as a grandfather figure who knows all the ways of life and is not afraid to offer constructive criticism.

Cinematography enhances the overall production by using different angles that are familiar to typical sports movies. However, what sets this film apart is that it not only shows the connection that the actors have with each other, but it also makes you feel connected to them. Throughout the movie, the feeling of the small town qualities of Norway, Iowa is sensed. Along with this sensation, the director uses the older characters to give the high school students life lessons that the views can apply to their life.

The director does a great job of depicting that small town America tone by using a variety of techniques, such as the script. In the movie there is a line that says, “If you’re on the Norway baseball team you’re a small town hero”. Another technique is: character reliability, through all of the scenes you get closer to every character. Lastly, since it is based on a true story, real clips from the local news about the team enhances the credibility of the movie. David Mickey Evans really nailed it out of the park with “The Final Season” giving you the ultimate small town baseball movie.
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on November 14, 2008
When it comes down to it, not everybody is always looking forward to the latest in baseball movies, regardless of how funny or hilarious they might seem to be. The last great one I'd seen turned out to by my favorite, and that was 61*. So when I heard of "The Final Season," through a radio station, it caught my attention. But since my wife and I were on our way to work, we quickly forgot about it. That is, until we saw it in the store, and we both said, "We heard of that!" And we jumped all over it.

This is the true story of Jim Van Scoyoc, Kent Stock, and a very special baseball team located in Norway, Iowa. Championships were piling up, one more and it would be 20 even, and baseball was everything to this small town! But to the local school board, a merger is more important, and everything precious to the town of Norway is in jeopardy. And while Jim Van Scoyoc steps down, Kent Stock steps in to finish what was started. And being a girls volleyball coach in the past, Stock is immediately faced with doubts, and some heavy adversity. Is this guy really the right man for the job? Is he a championship coach like the legend, Van Scoyoc? Even a player or two thinks this just might be a lost cause, and they let it be known. But with hard work, and dedication to what this team deserves, Kent Stock is ready to turn some heads and to win that 20th championship.

There isn't much goofy stuff that goes on in this movie. Small town America means everything to those who live in small towns. And the whole movie just kept my attention to the end! My personal favorite scenes were the infield practice, to get into the other teams' heads! And in the end, there just wasn't anything to complain about. Plus there is a lot of good baseball action through the course of the film.

When you pick this up, don't just look for the flash. Look for something special that goes beyond the glory, look for something that inspires. Because as one who used to play baseball, it inspired me. And if I were a coach, it would get me going even more!
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on May 20, 2008
I had never heard of this movie before I noticed the DVD at a local store, and I wondered why I hadn't after I read the description on the back cover of the DVD. It seemed that this should be another great `underdog triumphs' sports movie. Well, although there is nothing glaringly wrong with this movie, other than occasional (though admittedly rare) profanity, it simply doesn't come off as magical as it seems it should. While the root-for-the-underdog formula has been used time and again in sports movies, we viewers never seem to tire of it; however, it takes a lot of filmmaking savvy to use the formula well, and that is where this movie falls short.

The title of my review indicates the mood that the filmmakers try to evoke in the opening scenes of the movie in which newly-hired Kent Stock (played by Sean Astin of "Rudy" fame) drives along the rural roads of Iowa on the way to his job as the assistant baseball coach in the town of Norway; along the way we are treated to scenes of barns, fields, and kids playing baseball everywhere Stock goes. That seems just like the opening of "Hoosiers," doesn't it? Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) is driving along the rural roads of Indiana on the way to his new job as head basketball coach in Hickory; along the way we are treated to scenes of barns, fields, and kids playing basketball everywhere he goes. Even the music during these opening scenes is reminiscent of the music in "Hoosiers." And therein lies the major problem with this movie, which is that this opening starts the movie off on the wrong foot: if you are going to evoke "Hoosiers," then you are setting your viewer up to have high expectations for your movie, and you had better deliver. Unfortunately, "The Final Season," while not a bad movie, in no way lives up to such lofty expectations.

The magic in "Hoosiers" comes not so much from the underdog-beats-Goliath sports cliché, but from the relationships between the characters in the movie and the redemption that both Dale and "Shooter" (Dennis Hopper) find in coaching Hickory's basketball team. The makers of "Hoosiers" took the time to develop those relationships onscreen and, thus, viewers truly come to care about the characters. "The Final Season," on the other hand, works almost entirely in clichés, especially in the case of Jim Van Scoyoc (Powers Boothe), Norway's legendary head baseball coach, who seems to do little more than offer soundbites of Zen-like baseball wisdom. Van Scoyoc is the tough but wise coach who whips even the players with the worst attitude into respectful winners. Stock is Van Scoyoc's idealistic young apprentice (for all of half a season). While the characters and their situations are different, the relationship between Van Scoyoc and Stock is never developed to the point at which we care about them as much as we do Norman Dale and "Shooter" in "Hoosiers." Polly Hudson (Rachel Leigh Cook) is the foil-turned-love-interest for Stock, just as Myra Fleener (Barbara Hershey) is for Dale in "Hoosiers." No one in Hickory has much faith in Norman Dale at first, and no one in Norway has much faith in Kent Stock once he is hired to replace Von Scoyoc as the head baseball coach. Of course, there also has to be a player who saves the day for the team: in "Hoosiers" it is Jimmy Chitwood, and in "The Final Season" it is Mitch Akers. There are even town meetings; again, just as in "Hoosiers."

The comparisons could go on and on, but I believe I have made my point. While the individual circumstances of the characters and the situations in the towns are different in each respective movie, it is quite obvious that the makers of "The Final Season" wanted to create a baseball version of "Hoosiers" but fell short of the mark by being too derivative of the movie they were trying to emulate. A major difference between the scenarios in the two movies, both of which are based on true stories, is that the basketball team from Hickory truly was a small-town underdog, while the baseball team from Norway, though Norway is certainly a small town, was actually the Goliath that won championship after championship (a total of 20 before the town's school was closed). While the idea is to show just how wrapped up Norway's identity is with its school's baseball team, just as Hickory's is with its basketball team, this departure from the cliché doesn't generate much sympathy for Norway as an underdog (since a team that has won so many championships can hardly be considered an underdog). Since "The Final Season" is based on a true story, I will have to cut the filmmakers some slack for that, but I won't cut them any slack for their too-obvious and pale imitation of what is probably the greatest sports movie of all time, "Hoosiers," especially since the acting is a bit thin here compared to that classic. Taken on its own merits, "The Final Season" is an okay movie; however, when it is compared to the classic movie that it strives to be, it comes up far short.
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on March 27, 2017
Best baseball movie ever! Liked it better than Field of Dreams because it is a true story.
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on June 4, 2015
grandson said 5 stars
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on December 27, 2017
Great story, great film.
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on November 20, 2009
I like sports drama and own a bunch of them. This is one of the very best.

Why? It is well-filmed, well-directed, well-acted, and it is a real story. Well, well, well. Look up "Norway Baseball" and you get the whole story. The screenplay and the film that came from it are remarkably true to that story. Sure. The story is of a school competing in the smallest school division and the competition at that level is very different from that in the largest divisions, but Norway baseball was legendary. Its head coach was a legend. Its players were picked up time and again to fill rosters in colleges with strong programs.

19 State Titles was the source of extraordinary pride. And then the school board came to a very difficult decision. Here the film plays the members as true villains and that is unfortunate because schools the size of Norway in communities the size of its little farm town do not have the resources needed in a modern high school. Merger with another nearby school with a more up-to-date physical plant and room to grow. Merger was necessary, BUT there was a strange effort made to make the last season less dramatic by gutting the baseball team. Leadership on the Board did not want the baseball team to emerge as a gathering point for continued resistance to the merger. So, the legendary head coach was released and replaced by a young rookie with very little experience. A number of key players did not come out for the team in its final playing season.

The coach ends up being a natural coach. He forges a team whose chemistry is initially difficult. The right players emerge. Virtually none of the drama is manufactured for the film. Check out the newspapers. A strong start is followed by a big slump. A timely push back is good enough to get them into the state playoffs. The team is an underdog up against far larger programs with amazing talent that manages to win the baseball way: sound defensive play, a smart line-up, good scouting, a couple of very talented kids, a bunch of less talented but solid players, and big fan support.

Background stories are equally compelling as a spoiled and angry city-kid is transformed by his coach, his grandparents and his team.....and then meets his father on the field of play, real common ground. A bus driver, a priest, a couple of sports reporters and a girl friend each provided another story that makes the BIG STORY work.

Lastly, there are no ultra-dramatic, over the top, I-Can't-Believe-It moments. These moments are common devices in sports drama. They generate big moments for big feelings. There are lots of little moments that feel very real: mock bets between a pitcher and a catcher, a heart patient/bus driver who sneaks into the championship game, the fired coach returning for the last game, an often disheartened relief pitcher who is scared to death of the opposing pitcher's fast ball but still manages to crowd the plate at a critical moment, a coach who falls in love with a state official who has endorsed the school merger, and so much more.

In the back of the informed viewer's mind is the knowledge that these moments actually took place. Yeah, there is some condensing of action. There is fictionalized dialogue. There are combined characters. But, overall the truth wills out.

This film belongs on your shelf. Watch it with young athletes and discuss it. It's amazing what they have to say. Watch it with your family just for fun.
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on April 19, 2008
It's great to add this DVD to my collection. Last October I had the chance to see the movie twice about this true story of an Iowa High School baseball team that won 20 state championships with its legendary coach. The movie covers how Norway High School entered its final year as a school before merging with Madison High School in the early 1990s.The triumph..the bitterness...all the emotion is covered in this 119 minute movie. If you like your baseball stories that are true and realistic, then don't miss the Final Season with Sean Astin and Powers Boothe!
By the way if you look realy closely a very good friend of mine Mike Doocy is one of the sports reporters featured in the movie. He is now the sports director for the FOX affiliate in Dallas! Another real reason to enjoy this movie!
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on June 4, 2014
I was fortunate to Golf with Kent, played by Sean Astin, in Galena Illinois two weeks ago. When we met, Kent told me he was a motivational speaker and former junior high principal. He didn't even mention the movie made about his coaching experience until I asked what he spoke about in his motivational speeches at around the 9th hole. Sean Astin played this humble and dedicated man to the T. The movie really depicted small town high school sports and how important it was for the whole town, not just the players. Thanks to Mr. Astin for producing this sweet story.
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on April 16, 2008
This movie is a must buy for your library. I am originally from this town and now live in Texas. Needless to say I am proud of the baseball heritage; but most of all I'm proud of the family unit that this town portrays. It's a great gift idea.
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