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Movie review: 'Touching Home'

EntertainmentMoviesFamilyBaseballSportsEd Harris

There's a tale of passion and tenacity behind the baseball-and-family drama "Touching Home," but it's in a published book about the making of it, by identical twins and first-time filmmakers Logan and Noah Miller. The semi-autobiographical movie they actually wrote, produced, directed and star in is handsome but standard-issue heartland fare.

Forged from the baseball-is-pure corner of Americana storytelling, the Millers' script introduces them as hardscrabble brothers Clint and Lane, strapping (and often shirtless) young men with big league aspirations. When the dream is cut short, though, they're forced to return to their working class Northern California town, the sweat and toil of quarry jobs and conflicted dealings with their alcoholic dad, Charlie ( Ed Harris), who lives out of his Ford camper. Needless to say, family reconciliation becomes paramount to the brothers' chance to escape once more.

There's a sweetly picturesque charm to the Millers' directing style, even if their dramatic touch is squarely middle-of-the-road. There are early indications that they have an eye for people against landscapes and -- since the twins once held their characters' same dreams -- baseball scenes. Plus, they know a thing or two about acting fraternal tension, even if as rookie directors they don't make it easy to tell them apart. (Couldn't one of them have gotten a different haircut?)

The boys' casting coup Harris, meanwhile, is reliably dissipated -- even humorously so, at times -- without either villainizing Charlie's mistakes or aiming for pity. But it still feels cobbled together from the scraps (prime scraps, still) of this veteran's career, and the Millers treat their star player almost too reverently to make him a galvanizing, chaotic figure in the boys' deferred lives. It all gives "Touching Home" a feeling of getting walked around its bases, rather than hitting singles, doubles and triples to score its points.

"Touching Home." MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic material involving alcoholism, language, brief violence and for smoking. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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