The high-school baseball team in the small farming community of Norway, Iowa, has won some 20 state championships over the course of about as many years. The school, its iconic coach Jim Van Scoyoc (Powers Boothe) and a few decades of over-achieving farm-boy baseball players, many of whom have gone on to play in the majors, is the epitome of the idyllic American zeitgeist—Iowa corn and the champions of the Americans that grow it. In 1991 it all comes to a screeching halt when the Norway school board, along with the state, dismantles the baseball dynasty with cost-cutting measures that cause small communities like Norway to have their schools (and sports programs) absorbed into larger districts. And thus the Norway dynasty comes to an end—but not before the players and the community have one Final Season.
Set against a field of dreams, this true story is told using some tried-but-true sports movie clichés, most of which play anyway, along with some equally well-worn family drama clichés, most of which don't play nearly as well. The narrative basically follows the story of real-life Norway Assistant Coach Kent Stock (Astin), who is hired by a nefarious school board to tank the Norway team in its last season of play, thus erasing from the hearts and minds of the townsfolk any reason to cling to their proud history or the school that provided it.
Although predictable, The Final Season is pithy and so rife with American-heartland nostalgic sentiment that it will make you want to cheer—even if you don't really like baseball. —
Cast: Sean Astin, Powers Boothe, Rachael Leigh Cook, Michael Angarano and Tom Arnold
Director: David Mickey Evans
Screenwriters: Art D'Alessandro & James Grayford
Producers: Michael Wasserman, Steven Schott, Tony Wilson, D. Parker Widemire Jr. and Herschel Weingrod
Rating: PG for language, thematic elements and some teen smoking
Running time: 114 min.
Release date: October12, 2007