Can you imagine being barely out of elementary school and being declared a phenomenal baseball player breaking all sorts of records and myths? Neither did Hooper Gibson (Johnny Simmons), which is one of the reasons his short-lived good luck was on the skids along with his self-esteem, his relationship with his Dad and his relationship with himself.
Initially, I was interested in this film because I love baseball and thought I would be seen something in the lane of MoneyBall or Field of Dreams. What I witnessed was a film is that felt more like an August Wilson play with white people than it did a feature film. There were mostly two-person scenes with a ton of dialogue executed perfectly by each actor casts.
Ethan Hawke, however, was on a whole other level for this role. I'm not used to seeing him be a bully, but I kinda liked it. He is sporting a Marine Corps still buzz cut and his attitude is just as hard-core. If Boyhood couldn't bring home major mantel candy for Hawke last season, it's a safe bet that this performance can't be ignored. It's simply marvelous. No wonder Hopper was having an identity crisis. Johnny Simmons had the most difficult role to attack with Hopper. He had to be a bird with a broken wing, but still let you know that the apple really doesn't fall too far from the tree - involuntarily so.
Of course, you know I can't finalize this review without giving a shout out to one of my favorite actors Paul Giamatti! This dude is simply fantabulous...period.
The Phenom is a journey in self-loathing, self-discovery, self-awareness and how our parents can affect our spirit whether we want them to or not. The Phenom is in theaters NOW!