The Hill Review – An Uplifting, Engaging, Inspirational, True Story

The Hill, from Briarcliff Entertainment, presents an uplifting, inspirational drama that tells the story of professional baseball player Rickey Hill, born with a degenerative spinal condition, and a swing that could hit it out of the park.

The film begins with a young Rickey, played by Jesse Berry, wearing leg braces, and practicing stick ball hits with rocks, each one sailing further than the next. His father, James Hill, played by Dennis Quaid, is explaining that Rickey will never play professional baseball, even as it is the one thing, this little crippled boy believes he will do. His faith is contagious.

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Unfortunately, as his daddy is a preacher, the congregation is small, and as he preaches, the congregants, seem to disrupt the sermons, until he is unable to control himself and he admonishes them. This doesn't go over well, and the small flock terminates his service. They are broke, dirt poor, barely able to survive without one of them going hungry each night. It seems like the stream is drying up.

So now, the family is forced out of their home, driving sight unseen fueled on practically faith alone, when then car runs out of gas on the side of the road, and when they decide to find some gas, the tire explodes, and they are stuck on a deserted road somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Out of frustration, James screams to the heavens and it begins to rain, until it was impossible to see the road out of the windshield. It was then a car pulled up beside them and an elderly woman asked them if they needed help. It was July 20, 1969.

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By the afternoon, the woman explained that her brother-in-law was looking for a pastor in the next town and the job came with housing. With one look at the dilapidated house, and church, it seemed like they were moving into a place with the same troubles they left.

Soon the three kids, Rickey, his brother Robert, played by Mason Gillett, and sister Connie, played by Hailey Bithell, were out in the field, with Rickey, once again, hitting those long fly homers. On this day, he hit one nearly 400 feet, over the trees, and into the yard of the local junk man. The sound of breaking glass scared them, and they all went to apologize. The man, Ray Clemons, played by Randy Hauser, who would become a lifelong friend and supporter, told him to hit another, and another, which he did, just to see if it was talent or a fluke.

Throughout this time Rickey, played as an adult by Colin Ford, is becoming more determined to play professional baseball while his father is determined that he will not. Rickey's miraculous transformation is more obvious every day, and with each day, his natural gift and talent adds another brick into the stubborn wall that surrounds the heart of his father.

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Throughout his life, his mother, Helen, played by Joelle Carter, and grandmother, played by Bonnie Bedelia, have been his constant encouragers, their faith that God doesn't make mistakes, and that they have witnessed miracle after miracle, one after another as Rickey, ham-strung from childhood, forced to wear braces, unable to walk, left alone run, suddenly breaks free and is able to walk, run, and use his natural gift, which doesn't leave him, it continues to grow stronger each day, and excels.

This is where the film, of course, takes a dramatic turn as injury sidelines Rickey right before the Pro Scouts, including Red Murff, played by Scott Glenn, are holding tryouts.

The Hill is a triumphant, inspirational, family friendly, film and demonstrates that faith in action will not only move mountains, but can free those in chains, and can cause even the most stubborn heart to see the error of his ways.

Well-directed, with a solid true story, the film moves seamlessly from youth to adulthood and the ensemble cast is perfect throughout.

Encouraging, hopeful and inspiring, The Hill opens in theaters August 25, 2023. See it.

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Country: U.S.

Language: English.

Runtime: 126 minutes.

Director: Jeff Celentano.

Producer: Jeff Celentano, Warren Ostergard.

Writer: Angelo Pizzo, Scott Marshall Smith based on the screenplay by Aric Horning, Stephen Hintz.

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Colin Ford, Bonnie Bedelia, Joelle Carter, Scott Glenn, Randy Houser, Rickey Hill, Mila Harris, Mason Gillett, Siena Bjornerud, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Jesse Berry, Ryan Dinning, Carina Worm, Hailey Bithell.

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