While Tyler is the focus of the film’s central narrative, his sister Tiffany (who was never officially named in the first movie) has a plot where she only speaks in motivation or exposition and is entirely forgotten about for long periods, her involvement feeling tacked on and never actually effecting the central plot. There are no real parallels between the two narratives other than that they happen parallel in this film’s messy time dimension. One could argue they’re both narratives focused on love triangles; but is it a love triangle if one third is dead? We’ll get there…
Maybe each plot being about relationships is good enough to make them parallel, but that’s so broad that it shouldn’t count. They aren’t even edited together to show parallels in the action. While the summary may state Tyler’s dilemma, the film will never bother to explain what choosing between love and baseball means.
Baseball players have wives. Does this movie think all baseball players are single?
Tyler and Kenzie
Buying 52 year old Derek Boone as a professional baseball player is a big ask. Softball coach is a perfectly appropriate place for this dude to be in his life; why not ditch the professional athlete stuff entirely? As is, he has an injury that does not matter and isn’t even portrayed realistically. The worst part about this role for Boone is that it doesn’t play into his strengths. His reel shows an actor capable of intensity, but he’s playing a subdued character whose external and internal conflict can be summed up in two words.
It’s so easy to make Tyler an angry and bitter former athlete who sustained a named injury, ending his career. Have him drinking on the field, acting like the exaggerated versions of his angry self, and not showing up to his sister’s wedding because he lost faith in God or something. You could then bring in Kenzie to make him better by showing him Jesus again. It gives viewers a clear message about being Jesusy, and how being by someone’s side in a hard time can bring them closer together. Tyler would have an actual reason to have feelings for her that aren’t just “the past”, and he wouldn’t have to be as much of a jerk to people. Instead, we’re treated to directionless, one-note improvising in scenes that continually repeat the same plot points through dialogue.
Monica Moore Smith plays Kenzie, and she’s nothing if not earnest. She’s always rolling with the scene, but she doesn’t have a distinct enough character outside of being sassy. She seems more self-confident than Heather’s character, yet she is also constantly striking out in love with the one guy that she dates in this movie – they really do go back to that well.
She has a backstory, but Tyler somehow doesn’t know it and the film hardly dwells on it. The movie thinks her flaw is competitiveness, but really it’s that she can’t let stuff go and is too focused on a relationship – give yourself some “you” time, Kenzie.
She’s also incredibly sensitive, and her constant outbursts help prevent the only conflict from being resolved too quickly.
None of the following ragging on this film is for its own sake – knowing why a film doesn’t work is key to understanding why others do. The odd and unnatural moments in bad movies can help one see what enhances better movies. The individual aspects of filmmaking are laid bare when they aren’t coherent, and it’s easy to point out what’s holding the filmmaking back from the releases we see on the big screen.
It’s especially important to be natural and logical when the movie’s goals and world are supposed to portray a facade of reality for its Christian audience. It’s a modern day parable, and bad storytelling will affect the reception of the message. Attempts at realism can be seen in small details that are randomly thrown in about sports, injuries and character backgrounds. The opening scene also immerses the American Christian audience into a film not unlike their own through a neo-realist softball game between two actual teams.
It’s great seeing a sport played well in a sports movie, and gives hope for a better movie than what we’ll ultimately get. Fielding players turn a double play – that’s the name of the movie!
There’s some more baseball playing before the credits end, and we’ve come to the final inning of the game. Driving hit-hats raise the tension as the pitcher gets the first two outs, which is a better use of music than at any point in the first film. Tyler watches on, clapping like he went to Jason Garrett’s school of coaching. He says he needs a “windmill”, and that’s not a baseball term I’m familiar with. If it means a strikeout, what kind of coaching is that? Does Tyler have pitch signals to relay, or anything real to do?
None of that matters because the pitcher allows a home run, ending the game. Tyler is half-heartedly encouraging his team when a man approaches him. This man will be introduced as “Agent Allan”. Agent Allan is played by the same actor as Ron Allen from the last film, except Ron Allen was a scout for the Angels and not an agent. They either forgot his name and role, introduced the actor as a new character, or no one paid enough attention to care one way or another. Maybe scout Allen was so bewitched by Tyler that he quit scouting to become his agent, and also changed the spelling of his last name…
Whomever he is/was/will be, Agent Allen is here to tell Tyler that he’s got a friend who is a therapist that can work magic, and this sadly does not foreshadow Tyler’s actual trainer whose methods are not too far off.
Tyler is insistent that he wants to play baseball, and not coach it. The entire conversation has the energy of running into a friend from high school at the grocery store. There’s awkward catch up, affirmation of whatever vague thing you remember about each other (picture head shakes while saying “right on, right on”), and a sudden excuse to get out of the awkward situation. Agent Allan bounces, and his only other appearance will fail to shed further light on his identity.
“Don’t quit your day job just yet,” Kenzie yells from off-screen.
Why would he quit his day job of being a professional baseball player to be a weekend softball coach?
Oh, never mind, I forgot that’s the plot of the movie.
She’s come to gloat about how she beat him. Is this the “competitive” part of the movie? Is this her flaw? Is it supposed to be endearing? Flirty? Tyler wants a rematch, but she just says he should do better before prancing out of the frame.
This scene is incredibly jarring coming off the first film where Tyler falls in love with Heather and kisses her. She has to say her own name to Tyler and the audience to eliminate confusion for unsullied fans of the first film. I’ll let you in on something the movie doesn’t reveal for a while: Tyler was almost engaged to this woman before he started dating Heather.
The acting in this scene is ridiculous if you know that. Tyler is acting like this is the first time they’ve ever spoken. He calls her coach, and she has to remind him of her name for the first of many times. There is zero familiarity or chemistry between these two characters, she’s just another woman who thinks Tyler is hot.