Bull Durham (1988) – Ron Shelton

I love a good baseball movie, there’s something inherently joyful about them, whether it’s the game, itself, the sound of the crack of the bat, the tightly edited homages of games played, or the characters that step up to the plate, I love them, drama, comedy… is there a baseball musical? I’d probably dig that too.

Bull Durham is a Kevin Costner classic that has him in a role that seems to be his typecasting, an older athlete, with sage-like wisdom to impart, and hearts to win.

This time around he plays catcher, Crash Davis, who got three weeks in the Big Show, and is brought in to join the minor league team, the Durham Bulls, and help mature a wild, young pitcher, Nuke (Tim Robbins) who has a million dollar arm, but a five cent head. He’s uninformed, naive, and is in the game for all the wrong reasons.

Hopefully Crash can temper him and turn him into a ballplayer worthy of the Show.

AS the Durham team goes through its in and out of the season, things are complicated by Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) who chooses one player each season to have an affair with, help them improve their skills on the field, and in the bedroom, and this year, she is drawn between Crash and Nuke.

Frequently funny, the film has an enjoyable story at its heart, one developed from director Ron Shelton’s own experiences in the minor leagues. While the film predominantly focuses on the trio and their love triangle, the supporting characters of the rest of the team, all get a moment or two, and Robert Wuhl seems to steal every scene he is in simply with his line delivery.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in this film, and it’s one of those films that works perfectly as a date night movie because there’s tons of humour, some of it raunchy, but all of it honest, and there’s a nice love story at its heart as well.

Costner was made for these types of roles, he’s believable, approachable, and he comes across as a person you’d want to have a beer with. Sure he would try to assume heroic roles later in his career, but he works so well in these types of roles, even when the film isn’t stellar (Tin Cup).

So Costner, a sharp as a tack, and seductive Sarandon, and Robbins embracing his wild side make for a great combination set against the infield of a small minor league team that has no idea what a winning streak is.

Now, I feel like I want to just settle in and watch a number of baseball movies… The Natural, The Sandlot, heck, maybe even Major League.

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