There’s still room for another film about the mind-set of the AA ballplayer, but even those who worship at what Susan Sarandon once called the church of baseball may find their faith tested by this rote exercise in indie miserablism, which goes unhelped by a lead actor whose only register is “pep talk.” On hiatus from the season and bored with banging the local floozies, David (Schreiber) returns home for some ill-defined soul searching. Next year’s gonna be his year for the majors—he’s got his speech prepared and everything. But until then, he fancies himself a protector for an old friend (Overbey) and her troubled son (Paolo), who’s grown up without a dad. Will David turn family man? Or is he damaged goods? The saving grace of Favorite Son is that it keeps you guessing for a time—only to dash your dreams.
To compensate for the fact that it has no plot to speak of, Favorite Son doubles down on the motivational backstories. Suicidal fathers, deadbeat dads, domineering coaches, abuse—there’s not an action in this film that isn’t directly prompted by a trauma or insecurity. And as Chekhov might have said, if a baseball bat appears in act one… This sort of tidiness may earn good grades in screenwriting classes, but it doesn’t make for good movies.