Coming of Age On and Off the Baseball Field in Calvin Marshall

Calvin Marshall (Alex Frost) knows baseball like no one else on his junior college's team. He's got discipline, technique, and a love of the game—what he's lacking is the gift. In life, he's in the opposite predicament: He's a natural charmer who's not so great with the details, which in Calvin Marshall, Gary Lundgren's scruffy, sweet ode to managing youthful expectations, include getting the resident dream girl and recognizing he has no future at-bat. A small-stakes version of last year's Sugar, Calvin Marshall succeeds largely on the strength of its central performances: Frost, the ultimate '80s crossbreed of John Cusack and D.B. Sweeney, has a wet puppy face and the chatty confidence to sell a role vulnerable to twitchy clichés. As a volleyball ringer new to town with a git-'er-done physique, Michelle Lombardo softens under Calvin's self-deluding attentions, and it's a pleasure to watch. Steve Zahn gets to stomp around with a cheek stuffed with chew, playing a minor league reject who coaches with derision, bird-dogs kids, and struggles with the sympathy pangs Calvin inspires. Lundgren has a light touch and a weakness for wistful indie lullabies; it is the former that gives this classic coming-of-age film its distinctive ring.

 
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