The Hill Parent Guide
Like most underdog sports films, the story is predictable, but it also tells a meaningful story about family ties, reconciliation, and overcoming adversity.
Parent Movie Review
Rickey Hill (played as an adult by Colin Ford) couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate surname. Born with a degenerative spinal disease, a young Rickey (Jesse Berry) is told his chances of walking are insurmountable, but he beats the odds by wearing leg braces. Falling in love with baseball, the boy spends many hours using a stick as a bat and rocks as balls. Yet despite how amazingly hard and far Rickey hits those rocks, everyone knows that a disabled kid could never really face the pitcher’s mound. Or could they?
Rickey’s physical limitations are only one of the mountains he will need to move if he wants to participate in the sport. The bigger problem looming over his fantasy is his father (Dennis Quaid). A poor preacher barely able to provide food for his family, James Hill is simultaneously tenderly protective of his frail son and harshly strict about him dedicating his life to God. Believing the boy has a gift, James wants Rickey to pursue a higher purpose rather than put his body at risk chasing a pointless pastime.
Based on a true story, this movie(also released as Eleven for Eleven), follows the uphill battle of this tenacious youth. As well, the story parallels Rickey’s determination with his father’s, as the two strong-willed males wrestle over the correct way to demonstrate their devotion and desire to use their talents to serve the Lord.
As trials continue to plague both Rickey and James, their hope and faith are tested. Some of these challenges are depicted in the film, including childhood bullying, threats between adults, family strife and implied domestic abuse. In one scene a dad gets his belt ready with a firm belief if he spares the rod, he will spoil the child. In others, characters defy authority figures and make difficult personal sacrifices, and still have their dreams dashed. Occasionally, they respond with a few muttered profanities, more often with prayerful pleas.
Although the screenplay suffers from predictability, it offers some beautiful moments of familial love, even when characters are torn between their roles as supportive wife or caring mother (played by Joelle Carter), observant mother-in-law or interfering grandmother (Bonnie Bedelia), and obedient children or loyal siblings (Mason Gillett/Ryan Dinning and Hailey Bithell/Carina Worm). Still, the film hits it out of the park is with the portrayal of this father and son seeking reconciliation with each other and with God. Audiences interested in guidance for climbing their own hills will find much to ponder from watching this divided team learning to navigate the game of life.Directed by Jeff Celentano. Starring Dennis Quaid, Joelle Carter, Scott Glenn. Running time: 126 minutes. Theatrical release August 25, 2023. Updated August 30, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Hill
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Hill rated PG? The Hill is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic content, language, and smoking throughout.
Violence: A father’s rigid adherence to piety causes stress between himself and his spouse, children, and mother-in-law. An angry character throws things and drives recklessly. A confrontation between a minister and his congregation over tobacco use ignites a war of words and hard feelings. Angry parishioners tell their preacher to leave town and threaten violence if he doesn’t comply. Characters spit at others as a sign of disrespect. A drunken man gets into a fight. A woman is shown with a black eye and domestic violence is implied. Children endure bullying, teasing and physical threats. Young characters lie to authority figures. A father takes his belt off so he can give his son a lashing for disobedience. Youngsters consider running away rather than face the consequences of breaking a windshield. Tense words are frequently exchanged. A leg injury is shown (no blood is seen).
Sexual Content: Teenaged characters kiss.
Profanity: A scatological curse is heard. Other profanities are muffled during scenes of frustration and anger. Mild profanity, crude slang and terms of deity are uttered infrequently.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Smoking is depicted throughout the movie. Chewing tobacco is also shown. A drunken character is portrayed.
Other: Terms of deity are used in prayer.
Page last updated August 30, 2023
The Hill Parents' Guide
Learn more about the real Rickey Hill (who was an executive producer for the movie) and compare his true story with the movie’s depiction.
Rickey Hill’s motto seems to be, “Never say never”. How does his persistence help him overcome incredible odds? What situations appear to crush his soul? What things happen to help him renew his hope? Can you relate to any of his challenges and disappointments? Where do you find the strength to carry on or try again?
James Hill challenges his son to decide if he is choosing to follow God’s will or his own. What conclusion does Rickey reach? Both father and son are depicted as religious men who want to do the right thing. Both use Bible scriptures to support their decisions. Why do you think they get different answers to the question? How would you go about resolving a situation like the one they face? How do you seek guidance for tough choices in your life?
The script makes some comparisons between Rickey and the world of professional baseball with the Biblical story of David and Goliath. Have you ever felt small like David? How do you face giant problems?
If you want to know how accurate the film is, you can read: History vs Hollywood: The Hill.
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Rickey Hill’s seemingly impossible desire to play baseball is like the passion to play football shown in the movie Rudy (also based on a true story). A religious man feels that participating in his sport demonstrates his love of God in Chariots Of Fire. Dennis Quaid takes on the role of another father who stands in the way of his son’s dreams in I Can Only Imagine. A devoutly religious man believes that the best way he can serve God is through the political battle to end slavery in the British Empire, as told in Amazing Grace.