In 1977 a young first baseman by the name of Willie Mays Aikens made his debut in the baseball major leagues, and quickly rose to the top of the ranks. He helped his team, the Kansas City Royals make the playoffs twice during his time with them. He even becomes the first player to hit two homes runs in two different games of the same World Series. Unfortunately, like so many other professional athletes, fame got the better of him. And he started developing a cocaine habit that saw him get in trouble with the law. Nine years after he played his last game in the majors, the system arrests and sentences him to 20 years in jail for selling crack to an undercover officer. The Royal is his story of what came next.
After coming out from prison, Willie Mays Aikens (Snowfall‘s Amin Joseph) attempts to get his life back. He moves into his old home, reunites with his wife Sara (A Million Little Things’ Andrea Navedo) and his teenage daughter Camila (newcomer Olivia Taylor Cruz). And he has has dreams of getting a job working for the Kansas City Royals as a hitting coach. Unfortunately things don’t go quite as planned. He finds himself fighting to keep away from his old addictions, while trying to find a way to connect with his daughter who wants nothing to do with him. On top of that the Kansas City Royals’ management team doesn’t have the time of day for him. Aikens had the determination to make things work however, and continues fighting with himself to make sure it does.
While The Royal might be seen by some as being a movie about sports, it’s far from it. In fact baseball is little more than a footnote to the story. The Royal is instead a movie about getting a second chance, and becoming a better person. The best part is that it doesn’t attempt to toy with your emotions to elicit a response, and lets the story play out on its own. Joseph plays the role with the right amount of emotion, showing his weakness when needed and his strength throughout. The movie is one about a man determined to do right to those he wronged in the past. Cruz may be a newcomer to feature films, but she plays the part like a veteran actress. She has a bright future ahead of her.
The Royal isn’t without its flaws, in fact it feels more like a made for TV film than a feature film, but just because it has a low budget doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. It’s the film’s heart that makes it worthwhile, and one most will enjoy.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
- Release Date: 7/15/2022
- Directed by: Marcel Sarmiento
- Starring: Amin Joseph, Andrea Navedo, Elisabeth Rohm, Nic Bishop, Olivia Taylor Cruz
- Produced by: Amin Joseph, Gregory W. Jordan, Rick Montgomery, Scott Resnick
- Written by: Gregory W. Jordan
- Studio: Vitamin A Films