A Mile in His Shoes
Distributed by: Vivendi Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Baseball opening day is upon us and I was searching for a baseball movie to review. I was recommended A Mile in His Shoes. Having never really heard of it before, I looked up the synopsis of the film and was intrigued at the idea of signing a pitcher with Asperger's Syndrome and decided to check it out.
Based on the novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler by Frank Nappi, the movie stars Dean Cain as Arthur “Murph” Murphy, former baseball player, now manager of the minor league team known as the River Rats. The River Rats’ numbers have been (pardon the pun) in the sewer lately, losing most of the games they have played in the first half of the season. The owner of the team is beside himself and sends Murph on a trip to scout a pitching prospect for the team to help take them out of the dumps.
While en route, Murph has a minor accident, sending his car into a ditch. With no cellphone signal and no one to turn to for help, he comes across a young man who lives on a farm nearby. Mickey (Luke Schroder) offers to allow Murph to use the phone at the farm to call for roadside assistance. While making the call, Murph watches as Mickey prepares to feed the pigs. What he witnesses is astounding – Mickey hurling apples and hitting his target in a tin bin over and over again at high velocity.
Murph is shocked and asks Mickey to throw a real ball for him. Mickey plants it in the same spot, blowing a hole right through the tin. Excited, Murph asks the parents if Mickey could venture back with him to try out for the River Rats, but Mickey’s parents are less than enthused. As they explain, their son has Asperger’s Syndrome and has difficulty in loud places around a great many people. They worry for his safety, but Murph assures them all will be well. In the end, it is Mrs. Tussler (Chilton Crane) who talks her husband (George Canyon) into allowing Mickey to take the trip.
After some adjustments, Mickey learns the knuckleball in addition to his fastball and he makes the team. The River Rats’ season turns around behind their new star, but not everyone is happy. Former star pitcher George “Lefty” Rogers (Jesse Hutch) is seeing less time on the field and watching his star status fade away. Unbeknownst to the rest of the team, he decides he is going to do something about it…something that may not only chase Mickey home, but may keep him there forever.
A Mile in His Shoes is one of those films you can tell is trying to teach you something. There are some definite Christian teachings incorporated here. We learn that Murph has lost faith in God after losing his son and we watch as he finds it again after befriending Mickey, a boy brought up in a devout Christian household. We find he has more patience for Mickey than most, dealing with him as he would if he were teaching his own son how to play. And of course, this film teaches tolerance of those different from us. Mickey may be socially awkward and a little slower to catch on than most, leaving him frustrated and confused, but he’s one of God’s gifts to this Earth and he, just like anyone else, wants to be a productive member of society, doing something he is good at.
It also teaches what can happen when people act out of jealousy, as in the case of Lefty and his actions towards Mickey. Eventually, karma will come back to get you and Lefty suffers the consequences of his attitude and damaging behavior. There is also a lesson about letting go and letting live. Mickey’s father, in particular, is very protective of his son and not exactly a willing participant in his success as a ballplayer. He is worried about Mickey getting hurt, but there is also another side of him that has been protecting Mickey for so long, he is worried about losing his role in his son’s life. As Mickey becomes more successful, and Mr. Tussler witnesses his happiness with his own eyes, he learns to give Mickey freer rein to be the man he wants to become.
Before I close this review out, I have to commend the terrific performance by Luke Schroder as Mickey Tussler. He really found a way to get viewers to understand what a person with Asperger's Syndrome goes through in stressful situations. As I watched, I remember thinking, “Wow, this kid is a great actor…he looks familiar…where have I seen him before? He looks almost exactly like Ricky Schroder.” Of course he does, for he’s Ricky Schroder’s son…now I feel old.
A Mile in His Shoes is a feel good family film that I really enjoyed. It’s not a blockbuster film, but watching the River Rats play reminds me of the days in which I enjoy games at TD Park with the Somerset Patriots. Watching this film was a great way to prepare for the upcoming baseball season.