A Hard-Hitting Cast And Beautifully Written, Evocative Script
Published: August 25, 2023
By: Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 17
Growing up impoverished in small-town Texas, young Rickey Hill shows an extraordinary ability to hit a baseball despite being burdened by leg braces from a degenerative spinal disease. His stern, pastor father discourages Rickey from playing baseball to protect him from injury and to have him follow in his footsteps and become a preacher. As a young man, Ricky becomes a baseball phenomenon. His desire to participate in a try-out for a legendary major league scout divides the family and threatens Rickey’s dream of playing professional baseball.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “With a hard-hitting cast and beautifully written, evocative script, The Hill surely captured my attention and should appeal to sports, drama, and biographical film fans as well.” See his full review below.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 17
With a hard-hitting cast and beautifully written, evocative script, The Hill surely captured my attention and should appeal to sports, drama and biographical film fans as well.
The Hill is based on the true story of Rickey Hill (Colin Ford, Jesse Berry), a kid from a poor Baptist family in rural Texas. Rickey has big dreams of becoming a baseball superstar and he’s immensely talented at batting, but he must face one problem — his dad (Dennis Quaid) won’t let him. Even when Rickey seems to have overcome congenital degenerative spinal disease, his father refuses to let him play, and he’s intent on molding him into a pastor just like him.
The direction by Jeff Celentano and screenplay by Angelo Pizzo and Scott Marshall Smith come together to bind the story — a riveting narrative of talent torn between passion and family. The set pieces and props, ever the wooden leg braces Rickey wears as a child, are all realistic. The dialogue in The Hill is real and raw, and I especially like how each cast member has convincing Texan accents. Dennis Quaid is an absolute superstar in the film; you’ll want to scream your head off at him sometimes and at other times, you’ll consider where he’s coming from — though that’s an angle the film doesn’t explore much. I was most taken by Jesse Berry’s portrayal of the young, fiery Rickey; he helms the film’s many tear-jerker moments. It’s certainly a stellar performance by a child actor, especially given the complexity of the role.
The Hill promotes pursuing your dreams with resilience; never saying never; and gaining a better understanding of perspectives different from you. The film contains religious content given Rickey’s upbringing in a strict, conservative Baptist family.
I give The Hill 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on August 25, 2023.