Every movie about the great American pastime tries to hit a grand slam, even if some don’t deserve a single. You’d think a feature titled Home Run would go big, but despite calling its shot and motioning to the center field fence, there’s a lack of power behind its swing.

Baseball star Cory Brand (Scott Elrod) is living the dream with fame and fortune, all for playing the game he loves. However, the lifestyle of a pro athlete is starting to have its drawbacks, with Cory’s alcohol consumption slowly taking over his life on and off the field. When his boozing causes a public incident, he’s suspended by his team and forced to take some time off to get his life together. A stop-off in his small Oklahoma hometown only makes things more complicated when his agent (Vivica A. Fox) ropes him into a recovery program, as well as an unwanted coaching gig for the local Little League team. Though unreceptive at first, Cory starts to see the error of his ways as he confronts the demons that put him on the path to self-destruction in the first place.

Elrod’s performance is a bit like that of a switch-hitter — you never know what’s going to happen. He can play the part of the drunk convincingly, friendly and generous one minute, then immediately angry and self-righteous the next, but it’s when he’s trying to cope that he struggles. His rage and remorse seem real but restrained and as a result, not wholly convincing. Fox, the most recognizable name in the cast, is somewhat vexing as his agent Helene, ever the disciplinarian stuck with saving her client from himself, with a little help from Cory’s brother (James Devoti) and sister-in-law (Nicole Leigh). Dorian Brown is drastically different from her role as Elijah Wood’s sharp-tongued sister on the TV show Wilfred playing Emma, Cory’s new co-coach, who also happens to be his high school sweetheart and still has some resentment for the way the two of them left their relationship. Could there still be something between them?

Letting go of the past is the name of the game here, most telling in Cory’s reluctant visits to support groups. These scenes give us some insight into his inner turmoil, as well as his fellow 12-steppers, but the testimonials are awfully PG-rated. A childhood memory involving Cory’s abusive father whipping fastballs at him haunts him continually, and though it may explain his pain, it doesn’t serve as much of an impetus for the kind of gloom he’s supposedly experiencing, with his occasional swigs hard to see as problematic. There’s a minimal amount of baseball being played here, as well, with sports taking a backseat to the feelings of the confused protagonist, on a different kind of journey compared to the coaches who find redemption in The Mighty Ducks, Hardball and The Bad News Bears. Then again, if you’re looking to Morris Buttermaker for inspiration, maybe you truly have hit rock bottom.

As the directorial debut feature film of movie and TV cinematographer David Boyd, Home Run is made with the best of intentions, but its target audience of the Christian family crowd holds it back from being the raw, perceptive character study it might have been, instead turning it into a dynamic between preacher and choir. For those who want to hear its message of faith and forgiveness, they’ll probably enjoy it, but the rest of the audience will likely be gone before the seventh-inning stretch.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

Featured image: Scott Elrod as Cory Brand in “Home Run.” Photo Credit: Kelly Kerr.

“Home Run” was released nationwide on April 19. For ticket and showtime information in your area, please visit http://www.homerunthemovie.com/theaters.

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