Stylish and well-crafted, this sports melodrama doesn't offer up much that is new in its oft-clichéd milieu, but the well-traveled paths down which it trods are reliable ones. If not for the film's badly distended running time it might have ended up, despite its lack of originality, in a genuinely affecting place. It's too bad that director John Lee Hancock and screenwriter Mike Rich don't get that their project is fundamentally G-rated schmaltz that's been road-tested and sanitized for Middle American bourgeois viewing. There's nothing wrong with candy corn cinema when it's self-aware, but the filmmakers seem to be laboring under the delusion that they're crafting a 21st century Field of Dreams (1989) instead of the latest family-friendly Disney concoction. The bloated two-hours-plus length betrays their pretensions, with nearly every scene slogging on long past the point where it should have been cut. The Rookie is definitely not a bad film; it benefits from its factual origins enough that the third-act payoff is genuinely affecting, and the performance by Dennis Quaid is thankfully free of irony or self-pity. It's just that the art of editing at either the script or at the final cut stage could have helped tremendously to disguise the artificiality that's being employed to manipulate viewers.