Rated 4.0

As another Bay Area-free baseball playoffs looms, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s intelligent, emotionally nuanced Sugar arrives just in time to inspire hope for the impoverished immigrant who may be your team’s future. Algenis Perez Soto makes a credible minor leaguer as Miguel “Sugar” Santos, a 20-year-old pitcher at a Dominican Republic baseball academy whose chance encounter with the knuckle curve sparks an interest from his parent organization. The shy, sensitive Sugar is plunked down in the middle of Iowa to play single-A ball, with little to no comprehension of the American language, customs, culture or food. Just as Sugar seems to be heading down a familiar road, Fleck and Boden (Half Nelson) steer the film onto less-trodden paths, and Sugar ultimately becomes an examination of the impetuous follies of youth and the deceptive promise of the American Dream.