Movie review: ‘Chasing 3000’

Baseball fans will find the start of “Chasing 3000" tough to resist: highlights from the career of one of the greatest, Roberto Clemente. This sincere, nostalgic, brothers-on-the-road movie has its strong points but sadly fails to do what Clemente so famously did in his final at-bat — finish on a high note.

It’s 1972, and teens Mickey ( Trevor Morgan) and Roger ( Rory Culkin) aren’t taking well to being transplanted from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, away from their grandfather ( Seymour Cassel) and beloved Pirates. Their struggling single mom ( Lauren Holly) made the move to secure better treatment options for muscular dystrophy-suffering Roger, who has watched Mickey star in youth baseball for them both.

Despite Roger’s severe cough, the two steal mom’s car to make it back to Pittsburgh in time to see Clemente collect his 3,000th hit. Soon enough, the boys are separated from their vehicle and crossing the country on luck and Roger’s crutches.

It’s one of those stories too earnest to be fiction, and indeed it’s “inspired” by true events. The film is at its best in scenes of baseball-as-lingua franca, moments in which disparate characters find common ground in America’s Pastime.

For longtime fans, the very subject of Clemente, one of the game’s most inspiring figures, can be emotional. Despite that, the gentle film generally avoids excessive sentimentality until its late innings — when it heaps the treacle on with a shovel.

“Chasing 3000.” MPAA rating: unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes. At the Mann Chinese 6, Hollywood.