From the opening shots of the American flag fluttering gracefully from a barn in the Iowa morning mist, to the closing scenes of cheering crowds at the baseball field, The Final Season is one great big corn-fed cliche.
The movie tells the story of the small town of Norway, Iowa (population 586) which, despite its small size, consistently manages to field a winning baseball team due to pluck, hard work and good Iowa values. As one crusty old timer puts it, â€œIn Norway, our baseball tradition is as rich as the Iowa soil.â€ The school is going to be closed as a result of some nasty legal tricks and budget cuts by people far away who donâ€™t appreciate the special character of a small town. So this is to be the last hurrah for the Norway Tigers.
Despite its small size, Norway is large enough to contain every stereotype known to man: the tough and disrespectful city kid whose life is transformed when he is exposed to good country values; the sharp city slickers who want to shut down Norwayâ€™s school (including the beautiful young professional woman in a business suit who succumbs to the homespun charm of the team coach); the father who made the crucial play in a ball game many years ago, watching his son step up to the plate in the exact same situation; the aging coach who hands over his team to his young and unsteady replacement, and many more. Yes, youâ€™ll meet them all here in Norway.
The plot of “The Final Season” does not have much to commend it; this same story has been told better hundreds of times before. The script is often unbearably hackneyed. (â€œEvery player who ever wore a Norway uniform is going out there with you todayâ€¦â€) The characters are so stereotyped that there is not much room for quality acting. Norway is a Nuance-free Zone.
But what this movie does have is montages of healthy, graceful teenage boys leaping, running, catching, and playing under the big Iowa sky. It shows them working as a team. It has baseball. And sometimes, that can be enough.
Parents should know that there is brief strong language, smoking, and a drug reference, all disapproved of.
Families who see this movie should talk about the role of sports in community-building.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Sandlot.”