This biographical baseball film has three strikes against it: its acting roster is somewhat inconsistent, it fouls up some of its central notions about the limits of faith and it slides in too many familiar sports movie tropes – but even so, it’s largely a rousing run around the bases of feel-good sentiment. An earnest true-life story of a little-known sports miracle, Jeff Celentano’s The Hill (B-) is equal parts formulaic and inspirational. The central slugger who overcomes a handicap in order to try out for a chance at the big leagues is a real guy from history named Rickey Hill. He’s played effectively as a plucky child by the very talented Jesse Berry and as a twentysomething by Colin Ford, who is likable but not quite as natural. Dennis Quaid portrays his pastor father, who seems a bit world-weary in his stubborn role; the actor is powerful even if he never fully matches the age of his character (mercifully, no Indy 5 de-aging effects were employed). Scott Glenn as the legendary MLB scout and Bonnie Bedelia as the screenplay’s deus ex machina (a.k.a. the Hill family’s truth-telling grandmother) make lively impressions as the even more elder states-folk of the proceedings. The film is photographed in nostalgic tones which undergird its old-fashioned themes as the overprotective dad evokes unswerving devotion to religion as an excuse to forbid his son from a potentially disappointing career in baseball that will likely ruin the frail body behind his brawny batting arm. The script insists pop’s stalwart overprotection is somewhere beyond that of the parents in Footloose or Carrie, which gets far-fetched and tedious. Of course the staunch won’t short-change the launch. Still, when the inspirational sports and emotional moments work their magic, cheers and waterworks spring forth. There are some nice sequences of subtlety early in the film showcasing observant familial and congregational traditions which get mostly jettisoned for the inevitable montage sequences and grand finale. The movie is genial family entertainment and deftly demonstrates the majesty of both belief in a higher power and belief in a disciplined work ethic to field one’s dreams.