"Gentleness and Joy Bring Peace and Success"
What You Need To Know:
THE PHENOM is beautifully shot and acted. Writer/Director Noah Buschel manages the performers expertly and achieves moments of visual poetry. He cares about his characters as if they’re family. As the protagonist learns to deal with his bottled-up emotions concerning his past, the movie stresses forgiveness, gentleness and joy over anger. So, it has a morally uplifting, redemptive storyline overall. That said, THE PHENOM has a lot of strong foul language, an abusive father and brief crude content. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
(BB, C, LLL, V, S, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong moral worldview includes light redemptive elements in premise, with reconciliation between son and abusive father, forgiveness extolled, gentleness and joy affirmed above anger, and anger rebuked, mitigated by plenty of strong foul language, much of it coming from abusive father; at least 59 obscenities and five profanities; brief moment of disturbing violence when the protagonist pitcher’s father throws a nearly full beer can at force at his son’s ear, then threatens to beat him if he won't do "suicide sprints" of intense running because his son violated his rule of smiling while pitching in a game; protagonist accepts woman’s offer to visit his hotel room, with some passionate kissing and removal of some clothing, but woman turns out to be part of an armed robbery situation, plus some brief lewd dialogue; upper male nudity and woman in underwear; alcohol use and abuse; abusive father smokes marijuana repeatedly and is a small-time drug dealer who keeps getting arrested, released and arrested again; and, abusive father situation ends in a reconciliation at the very end, armed robbery.
THE PHENOM is a beautifully shot and acted movie about a major-league rookie baseball pitcher who overcomes painful memories of his emotionally abusive dad through the help of a kind psychiatrist with a pitiful past of its own. THE PHENOM has some strong morally uplifting elements stressing forgiveness, joy and gentleness over anger, but there’s excessive foul language, an abusive father situation and brief lewd content, so extreme caution is advised.
Hopper (Johnny Simmons) is a Major League pitching star prone to either brilliant games or embarrassing wild pitches. He starts seeing an unorthodox “mental coach” named Dr. Mobley (Paul Giamatti) after his manager orders him. This triggers extended flashbacks to his turbulent senior year of high school, where Hopper’s no-good father (Ethan Hawke), who used to be a star pitcher himself before drinking and fighting his way out of baseball, made his life a nightmare with pressure to make it big since he couldn’t.
The movie also shows Hopper’s chaste romance with a girl much smarter than him, whose love at first scares and then inspires him. Moving expertly between past and present, the movie touchingly shows a shell of a man coming to believe he has worth in the world.
THE PHENOM is the first real shot that micro budget filmmaker Noah Buschel has had at an audience in his six movies, thanks to his veteran stars Ethan Hawke and Paul Giamatti. They both give brilliant performances as polar opposites battling for Hopper’s soul, and Johnny Simmons is a revelation as the young pitcher. If this movie gets seen even somewhat widely, all three performances are Oscar worthy.
However, it’s Writer Director Noah Buschel who’s the real talent to watch. A perfectly written, directed and shot movie, he both manages the performers expertly but oversees moments and shots of visual poetry. He cares about these characters as if they were family.
As the protagonist learns to deal with his bottled-up emotions concerning his abusive father, the movie stresses forgiveness, gentleness and joy over anger. Eventually, the protagonist achieves peace and reconciliation. So, THE PHENOM has a morally uplifting, redemptive storyline overall. That said, the movie has a lot of strong foul language, mostly coming from the young pitching star’s abusive father, and some brief lewd elements. Thus, although the ending is redemptive, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.