Welcome to my first Wood2YourMoms movie review!
For the last week or so I've had a Netflix DVD sitting on the counter and since the Cyclones are off this weekend I decided to through it in. It's the movie The Final Season, the story of the 1991 Norway (Iowa) High School baseball team. That particular season is "movie-worthy" because it was the last (or final, hence the name). The school had won 19 state titles in tiny division I-A coming into this season and their evil (at least according to the movie) school board had just voted to consolidate with the Benton Community folks up in Vinton. The town was able to work a deal where the team had the opportunity to play one last (again, "final") season as long as they traded into their superstar coach for a rookie, played by Sean Astin (a/k/a "Rudy", "Mikey" from Goonies and the "stupid, fat hobbit"). It also featured Univ. of Iowa alumnus of the year Tom Arnold!
The writing is okay (guess what - they win a 20th State Title!) and the acting isn't great. There were several references that seemed corny and out of place to anyone who's ever actually been to Iowa. One notable instance is the way the characters regard the relationship between small-town Norway and big-city Des Moines. They aren't that different. For instance, Sean Astin's character has to explain to the Des Moines lawyer that he went to Luther College, a "Division 3 school in Decorah". She responds that she went to "the University of Iowa Law School". I'm sure almost everyone in Iowa (espescially those holding their JD) knows of Luther and where it is. Additionally, everyone else would just call Iowa Law, well, "Iowa Law". That's Hollywood for you.
However, I did like the movie - mainly because of the setting. I'm always proud to see Iowa depicted as a great place and this movie does it. The scenery was beautiful and fairly true to local landmarks. They filmed in the minor league park in Cedar Rapids which was filled with billboards for local companies like HyVee and Musco and even one for the now defunct Regency Homes. Speaking of Musco, I did like the line calling something, "as bright as a Musco", which is not a cliche that I've ever heard and is probably colloquial enough to be missed by most people in this presentation. However, it's a great sports reference and I'll have to work it in myself sometime.
There were also several scenes at my alma mater - Cedar Rapids Kennedy. The opening scenes takes place at Belle Plaine High School but is obviously shot at the horseshoe (main entrance) and foyer at Kennedy. The Norway team plays their first game that year at Kennedy against a team of Cougars in their accurate, yet ugly, kelly green and gold uniforms. This scene was filmed at Kennedy, too. The high school was quite visible in the background even if the field itself looked funny - since it's featuring fairly new lights (probably Musco's).
Overall, it's no Field of Dreams but a so-so baseball movie and a good depiction of the Tall Corn State, nonetheless. Throw it in your Netflix queue or watch it on cable if your favorite college team is off on a Saturday.