'The Phenom' Explores the Dark Effects of Nightmare Sports Parents

Starring Johnny Simmons, Paul Giamatti and Ethan Hawke.

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A Major League rookie pitcher loses control over his pitching and is sent down to the minor leagues, where he begins sessions with an unorthodox sports psychologist. In the process, hidden conflicts with his overbearing father are brought to light.

Director Noah Buschel’s latest film, The Phenom, tells the story of a major league rookie pitcher, played by Johnny Simmons (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) who loses sight of home-plate and starts throwing wild, before being sent down to the minor leagues for rehabilitation. As part of his rehab, he begins seeing a sports therapist, played by Paul Giamatti, who unearths the young star’s traumatic and turbulent relationship with his father (Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke). Hawke’s character pushes his son—both literally and figuratively—putting a tremendous amount of pressure and expectation that weighs on the young athlete’s fragile psyche.

The film also caters to its performers’ strong suits: Paul Giamatti always excels in managerial roles and Hawke’s recent turn in Boyhood is proof positive of his ability to play nuanced father types. It should be interesting to see how Simmons—a supporting actor in most of his films—stacks up against some of Hollywood’s heavyweights.

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