The Scout (1994)

Rating: D-

Dir: Michael Ritchie
Star: Brendan Fraser, Albert Brooks, Diane Wiest, Anne Twomey

A promising start sees Brooks as a scout for the New York Yankees, deftly talking a religious-minded prospect into signing, only to find that nerves prevent him from pitching. Sent to Mexico as punishment, he finds Fraser pitching 105 mph fastballs in a bush league – how he got there is one of the many questions the film chooses not to answer. Signed up, we discover – to no-one’s surprise, save the characters in the film – that he too is psychologically unsound, eventually leading to a ludicrous, contrived and utterly implausible climax atop Yankee Stadium. Brooks does his best with the material, yet can’t escape criticism entirely, since he co-wrote the script.

Fraser, meanwhile, does little more than trot out his usual “ultra-innocent abroad” routine, and psychiatrist Wiest’s years of training and months of therapy accomplish less than one stern talking-to from Brooks. Still, given no real reasons why Fraser’s character is such a flake, I suppose we have no right to demand any explanation for him suddenly regaining his skills. A knowledge of baseball will help slightly (the guy playing the Yankees owner, actually does own the Yankees), yet even that can’t overcome the fact that most of this makes precious little sense.