A massive hit in its native Japan "Rookies" tells the story of a renegade teacher and his gang of unruly baseball players as they learn lessons about life out on the diamond. Along the way there are bust ups, injuries, adversities, tears and laughter. Like "Field of Dreams" (another movie with baseball at its heart) "Rookies" reminds us that if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?
There is little by way of detailed character building here...in fact, there are faceless X-Factor wannabes who receive more background story ("Oh, somebody I knew once fell down the stairs and now they've got a sore knee...that made me realise I have to chase my dreams") than the characters in this film. That doesn't really matter though as they are all instantly recognisable from lots of other sports movies and so it's easy for us to root for them right from the off.
"Rookies", unashamedly, wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn't try to hide the fact that what it's really doing is tugging on our heart strings by serving up a good, old fashioned, underdogs triumphing in the face of incredible odds type story. There's nothing wrong with that in my book...I love that sort of thing.
Based on a long running manga series this isn't cinema that is trying to be clever or ironic, it wasn't knowing or arch, it was just good fun with moments where you had a tear in your eye and others where you wanted to punch the air and shout "ye-es" as another home run was hit.
A great start to the GFF for me and I'm looking forward to the next two days.