Plot: What’s it about?
Al Percolo (Albert Brooks) is a talent scout for the New York Yankees, but his recent finds haven’t panned out as well as he’d like. But as he has uncovered some real players in the past, he is allowed to continue to scout, at least for a while. He soon runs across gifted pitcher Tommy Lacy (Michael Rapaport) and signs him to the Yankees, but Lacy proves be another bust for Percolo and the Yankees. This event turns out to be the all important straw that breaks the camel’s back, but Percolo is still kept on board. Now he has been sent to Mexico to scout for talent, but not the usual places, more of the off the beaten path locations. Percolo is lucky to run into a game without a chicken on one team, until he meets Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser). Nebraska is a young American man with intense skills, both as a pitcher and as a hitter. In truth, he does both better than anyone else Percolo has seen, now he just has to sign him and get a tryout in front of the major league teams. But even if he is able to tender Nebraska to a team, will this turn out to be yet another bust, or has Percolo finally found the real deal?
This movie was met with mass disapproval from critics and audiences, but I’ve always had a soft spot for The Scout. Perhaps it is Brendan Fraser’s misunderstood performance, the presence of Albert Brooks, or the natural, yet mystical source material, but this flick has never let me down. I can understand why it wasn’t a mainstream success, but I don’t know why it hasn’t found a larger audience, even on home video. I think people get the wrong idea about the movie’s goals, especially in how the lead roles are played and a result, are turned off to the picture. Fraser’s turn here is unusual and could be viewed as dazed, but I think it nails the character, complete with unexplained quirks and flaws. Brooks (who also cowrote) is also a pleasure to watch, even if his character is not as black & white good as some might have liked. The concept of baseball throws in some unique moments also, as well as some unexpected, but enjoyable guest appearances. As this movie has a poor reputation, I recommend a rental for first timers, but to other fans of The Scout, don’t hesitate to add this disc to your collection, even if slim on the extras.
As I discuss this film with people, they often mention how unlike Albert Brooks’ character is, but I don’t understand that statement. No, he is not a perfect person and yes, he does have personality flaws, but to me, that makes his character more realistic. It also enable us to see him interact with others and have those instances impact him, as opposed to simply bounce off his already flawless persona. If he were already a perfect person, he would have no arc and while the arc here is sometimes strange, it is still there, nonetheless. This is not Brooks’ finest work, but he manages well enough and provides a more than solid performance. Other films with Brooks include Mother, Defending Your Life, Real Life, Broadcast News, Taxi Driver, and The Muse. The cast also includes Brendan Fraser (The Mummy Returns, Encino Man), Diane Wiest (Practical Magic, Parenthood), and Michael Rapaport (Higher Learning, Bamboozled).
Video: How does it look?
The Scout is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I’ve owned this film in a few home video editions and I have to say, this is the best looking release to date, hands down. It might not be reference level, but it looks great and I doubt fans will be disappointed in the least by Fox’s work here. A few instances of grain and softness aside, the print is in fine condition and the elements seem to be in solid form. The colors are bold, but often natural in scope, while black levels are stark and accurate, no problems there to speak of. As I said, this is not a perfect visual effort, but this is the best The Scout has looked on home video.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to discuss here, as the included 4.0 surround option is good, but this material simply isn’t reference level stuff. The front channels shoulder most of the audio and with great results, as the elements sound natural and clean at all times. The surrounds are used here and there, but not too often and in the end, I think the material is more than done justice. The dialogue is the main element here and it sounds terrific, no errors of any kind to report. This disc also includes an English stereo option, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains a brief behind the scenes featurette, a news clip about baseball’s famous strike, eight television spots, and the film’s theatrical trailer.