Reviewed by Nazan Titizian
Director Michael Doneger’s take on returning home after retiring a career from major league baseball does not prove to be a home run picture. Doneger tells the story of Dustin Kimmel, a 30-year-old minor leaguer who has been striving to play pro baseball since he was only eighteen. After learning his years of attempts have landed him with a first-class ticket back to his hometown Brampton, Dustin is forced to face his family and friends whom he has neglected for years.
The film showcases some intimate and admirable cinematography from editors and photographers Brad Mclaughlin and Kieran Murphy; this in fact, coincides greatly with the emotional and raw undertones of the script. Composer Mitchell Owens’ selection of songs proves to be more than fitting and help accurately convey each scene’s intended mood.
Alex Russell, who plays the lost athlete looking for a new purpose, delivers a strong performance, but does not succeed in bringing the audience along in his personal journey. Due to the lack of depth in the script, it is unclear if Kimmel values baseball more or repairing his hometown relationships.
The chemistry between Dustin and Rachel (Rose Mclver), Kimmel’s once upon a time high school sweetheart,seems all too familiar and forced. Rachel, who chose to end their relationship once realizing Dustin would not return home for her, struggles to come to terms with her feelings for Dustin now that he has returned.
Once Dustin learns Rachel is engaged to the golden boy dentist of Brampton(Scott Porter), he confronts Rachel and the two have a few unconvincing hateful and lustful encounters. Rachel’s initial anger towards Dustin suddenly turns into lust during their second encounter, which soon leads to her breaking off her engagement rather quickly.
The story seems rather all too familiar and predictable, along with some unconvincing moments that simply do not resonate with the intended audience. Once Kimmel finally settles back into his old life at home, he receives a call that his dreams of going pro may be coming true. He leaves yet again, this time not only leaving his mother Judy,(Jean Smart) her new boyfriend Bart,(John Getz) his sister (Spencer Grammar)and a newly resolved Rachel, but also Bart’s grandson Cody,(Carter Hastings)whom Kimmel had taken on the role of acting as a big brother.
Doneger paints relatable characters who deliver strong performances. The confusion in the script arises once Kimmel returns home and it becomes hard to understand whether he learns to value his family over the game. This is not clarified even when finally reaching the end of the script; the audience is left with an unfulfilling cliffhanger. Along with revisiting Doeneger’s constant battle between the predictability of an athlete’s struggle and attempting to make this character more original than previous athlete storylines,the unsteadiness of the script is prominent and the film does not seem to come to a conclusion to convey Kimmel’s true conflict.
Alex Russell’s performance of conveying the sadness over initially losing baseball is more than apparent and rewarding, but the desire behind his character’s attempts to salvage his hometown relationships is not fulfilling. The film proves to be a light-hearted story that is in fact, warming and heartfelt, but lacks originality and persuasion.
BRAMPTON‘S OWN stars Alex Russell (Chronicle, Only The Brave) who plays Jim Street on CBS’ SWAT and Rose Mclver (CW’s iZombie), and in supporting roles; Spencer Grammer (Rick and Morty), Scott Porter (Dear John), with John Getz (The Social Network), and Jean Smart (FX’s Legion). The film was written and directed by Michael Doneger (The Escort, This Thing With Sarah), and produced by Doneger’s Cloverhill Pictures and Mark DiCristofaro in association with his company Perspective Productions, and co-produced by Matthew Harper. The film had its World Premiere at the Nashville Film Festival.