'The Scout' fails to find its high points

By Mark Vitale

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Twentieth Century Fox has produced some movies in the past that really made their mark on the film industry in terms of box office records and mainstream cultural impact. "Star Wars" and "Home Alone" are two such movies. But their latest flick, "The Scout," is not a step forward for Fox or for film, but rather a regression for both.

"The Scout" tells the story of New York Yankee baseball scout Al Percolo (Albert Brooks). Al is a typical scout who's on the road most of the year. Al used to be a good scout, but lately he has had a problem.

Al's specialty is discovering kids from small towns who throw mean fastballs. At least they do until they're put in the middle of Yankee Stadium. Then these same kids freak out in front of the crowds, throw up on the mound, or rip off their uniforms and run home.

After one such fiasco, Al's boss Ron Wilson (Lane Smith), general manager of the Yankees, sends Al on a grudge trip right into the heart of Mexico where third base is played by goat herds. In Mexico Al discovers Steve Nebraska (Brendan Frasier), the greatest ballplayer who ever lived.

Director Michael Ritchie ("The Bad News Bears," "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom") put a lot of hard work into the first 20 minutes of his movie. Audiences are treated to a humorous look at the life of a baseball scout. Little touches like all the scouts sitting together and wearing the same stupid-looking straw hats make this portion of the film enjoyable. Likewise, the final 20 minutes at the World Series are also entertaining. Ritchie shot the ending like it was an ESPN broadcast with a rock music score. Unfortunately, the middle of the movie is a complete mess and totally boring.

In a pre-release conference, Ritchie stated that " 'The Scout' is not a sports movie."

Unfortunately, Ritchie doesn't seem to know what he is doing, if he isn't making a sports movie. He seems to have been experimenting in different film genres, from comedy to psychological drama. None of these approaches fits well and the movie ends up being pointless and plotless.

And don't expect to see anybody play baseball besides Steve Nebraska. Heck, nobody has to. He constantly strikes out the other team and always hits home runs. By the time "The Scout" dishes out its lame excuse for a climax, the audience is asleep.

Unfortunately, "The Scout" can't decide what it wants to do and tries to do it all. As a result, it does none of it well.

"The Scout" is playing at Century Park 16 (Yep, 16!), 620-0750.

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