Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Show

People are noting it's the 30th anniversary of Bull Durham.  It's maybe the best film ever made about baseball, except I'm not sure it's a baseball film.

It's about people in the world of baseball, but it's not about winning the big game--the hallmark of sports movies.  I think Kevin Costner gives the best performance as Crash Davis, a minor league veteran who came close but never quite made it.  Not far behind are Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy, a baseball groupie who gets involved with the players, and Tim Robbins as Nuke LaLoosh, a raw rookie with talent but not much control.

And there's some fine supporting work from actors like Trey Wilson and Robert Wuhl that helps create the milieu of minor league baseball.  Of course, above all, there's writer-director Ron Shelton, a former minor leaguer himself.  (He'd go on to create Tin Cup, also starring Costner, which may be the best golf film ever.)

There have been a number of tributes to the Bull Durham, but one thing about them bothers me.  Let me quote from one to give you an example.  This is after listing a number of good moments from the film:

And Crash delivers a monologue that’s so good it transcends its earnestness. He concludes the speech with this: “I believe in the sweet spot, softcore pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”

If I have one problem with Bull Durham, it's this speech. I consider it the low point of the film.  It's far too calculated, and comes across as fake--clearly written.  I cringe when I see it.  And yet, in so many appreciations, they quote it.

The film is 108 minutes. If only it were 107.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't he trying to get laid when he gives that speech? I'd say calculated and fake is the way to go. Women like to be transported.

5:16 PM, June 20, 2018  
Blogger brian said...

What are the other baseball films that his exceeds?

11:56 AM, June 21, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

All of them.

Oh, you want titles?

There are certainly a lot of overrated baseball films, like The Natural and Eight Men Out.

And there are a ton of specific bios of baseball players, maybe the best known being The Pride Of The Yankees. 42 wasn't bad. And there's a good documentary on Hank Greenberg. (There's also a film about the secret life of Moe Berg opening this weekend.)

Maybe the second best film on baseball also stars Kevin Costner, Field Of Dreams (though it's got more on its mind than baseball). Then there's The Rookie. Moneyball wasn't bad. Some would make a case for Bang The Drum Slowly.

A number of the best baseball films are comedies. The top is probably the original Bad News Bears. There's A League Of Their Own, which has flaws, but when it works it works pretty well. Some kids' baseball films aren't bad, like The Sandlot. Major League was sort of fun. Bingo Long has its moments.

There are even a couple baseball musicals that are enjoyable--Damn Yankees and Take Me Out To The Ball Game.

Then there are memorable baseball moments in movies like The Cameraman, Speedy, Woman Of The Year, The Odd Couple and Ferris Bueller.

12:59 PM, June 21, 2018  

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