Movie: The Phenom (2016)
Director: Noah Buschel
Writer: Noah Buschel
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Paul Giamatti, Johnny Simmons, Paul Adelstein, Yul Vazquez, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Elizabeth Marvel, Louisa Krause, & Alison Elliott
One-Line Plot Synopsis: A rookie stud pitcher (Simmons) starts having control problems and a sports psychologist (Giamatti) starts to uncover past problems with his overbearing father (Hawke) that may have come to the surface.
This movie reminded me a lot of Whiplash but not nearly as good. They both focus on having a mentor or teacher that uses extreme authoritative measures to push a young and impressionable prodigy of sorts, to excel in their respective fields. That may have been a big roundabout way to say that sometimes, tough love actually pushes certain people to reach heights in something that they might otherwise not reach. It's basically the Bobby Knight way of doing thing...or an Army Drill Sergeant type of mentality.
The movie only is only 90 minutes which might explain why you don't get as emotionally involved with the characters, namely Hooper Gibson played by Johnny Simmons, as you might otherwise have been. He's a kid that is pushed to his breaking point, both physically and emotionally, on his route to becoming a stud baseball player.
You question yourself as to whether or not he actually wants to be a baseball player or if he's just trying to receive approval (finally) from his overbearing father.
I actually wish there would have been more time spent on the upbringing of Hooper with his father. You obviously get the gist of everything but I think if the story was told a little more from him being younger and growing up in that environment, it would have made more of an impact rather than him berating a highs schooler. The connection between Hooper and his girlfriend didn't get enough time either, to make you care about that relationship as much as they really seemed to want you to. They tried to touch on a bunch of different relationships that would have been much more affective if they focused more on one or the other or made the movie about a half hour longer.
P.S. I'm just going to throw this out there, but "The Phenom" looks like he's never thrown a baseball before in his life and throws probably a max of 40 miles per hour. I mean, it has a loop to it after all.