Audience Loved but Critics Hated This Netflix Baseball Drama Based on True Story

Audience Loved but Critics Hated This Netflix Baseball Drama Based on True Story
Image credit: Briarcliff Entertainment

Viewers were captivated by the story of an aspiring baseball player.


  • The biographical sports drama The Hill was released on Netflix last week and almost immediately became the most-watched movie in the US and Canada.
  • The film tells the story of a young man who managed to impress professional baseball scouts despite a spinal cord injury.
  • Although critics did not like the movie at all, audiences embraced it with great enthusiasm.

The Hill, a biographical sports drama, was released in American theaters last August, but at the time of its theatrical run it had not received much acclaim, being overshadowed by more high-profile competitors, including two other biopics: Gran Turismo, another sports drama directed by none other than Neill Blomkamp, and Golda, about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, played by the incomparable Helen Mirren.

The modest theatrical release, however, was no reflection on the quality of the movie. In January, The Hill was added to the Netflix library, and users immediately embraced the new sports drama, making it one of the most-watched movies on the streaming service.

It's also worth noting that unlike regular viewers who loved the plot, critics didn't share the same sentiments at all, giving the movie a cold shoulder. Let's find out what (or rather who) this incredibly uplifting story is about, and why critics and audiences are so divided.

An Inspiring Story Based on True Events

According to the film's director, Jeff Celentano, the idea for The Hill came from his brother, who happened to meet a man who told him his story.

'My brother called me and said, "Look, I just convinced this guy to call you. He doesn't want to call you. He's frustrated with Hollywood. You just gotta get on the phone and meet this guy. His story's amazing,"' Celentano shared with ScreenRant.

'My brother never called me like that before. So I had a feeling this might be something special.'

That person turned out to be Rickey Hill, a man with an absolutely amazing life story that can serve as an inspiration to many. Hill, played in the film by Colin Ford, was born in a small town in Texas to the poverty-stricken family of Protestant minister James Hill (portrayed by Dennis Quaid). His childhood was not only a struggle to survive due to his family's lack of money but was also complicated by a spinal condition that caused Rickey's legs to atrophy and required him to wear braces.

But that did not stop the boy from developing a passion that would change his life forever. Despite the protests of his strict father, who wanted a religious future for the boy, Rickey was a baseball fan whose skills propelled him to a major league career despite a leg problem.

As a result, the boy overcame all odds, including bullying at school, his father's displeasure, and hesitant baseball scouts, to impress the baseball world with his skills during a tryout at the age of 18: Hill was the top hitter of all participants.

Rickey never made it to the major leagues, but played for the Montreal Expos, Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, Texas City Stars and Grays Harbor Loggers before his career ended in 1978 when his back finally gave out.

A Stark Contrast Between Critics' and Audiences' Reviews

As mentioned above, the movie was received rather coldly by critics, with a rating of only 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many people did not like the clichés in the script and the attempt to use excessive sentimentality in the faith-based plot.

However, audiences did not agree with the critics, because for ordinary viewers, The Hill became a truly inspiring family film about the possibility of beating fate against all odds, with only faith in yourself and the support of your loved ones. The Rotten Tomatoes audience score is an impressive 97%.

In addition, according to What's on Netflix, The Hill held the number one spot in the top 10 most watched movies in the US and Canada for several days last week, January 22-28.

Source: ScreenRant.