Baseball season gets off to a rocky start when the Durham Bulls' new catcher, "Crash" Davis (Kevin Costner), punches out the cocky young pitcher, "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), he's just been hired totrain. Then sexy Annie ... more »Savoy (Susan Sarandon) informs both men that each season she chooses one player to share her bedand Nuke and Crash are this year's "draft picks." After Crash passes on the offer, Nuke eagerly enlists as Annie's summer fling...until Crash's jealousy takes over and he convinces Nuke that sex with Annie will jinx the Bulls' newfound winning streak!« less
"If you've never seen "Bull Durham" before, and are tempted to write it off as another sports flick, I beg you to rethink your position. Let me tell you my all-time favorite sports movie: "Hoop Dreams". What about it resonates with me so strongly? It's not a basketball movie --- instead, it is a character drama that just happens to exist within a basketball court. In other words, where the story takes place is irrelevant; what dominates the picture is how the story (or real-life events) affects the characters (documentary subjects).
"Bull Durham" might not belong in the realm of that classic, but skeptics shouldn't dismiss it simply because it involves baseball. Overlookers won't realize that it's a funny exploration of how people discover their own ambition; the dirt diamond & ball are circumstantial.
The story begins when a minor league team is joined by veteran catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner). Crash has been given the unenviable task of mentoring an immature pitcher whose deadly fastball "couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat". Tim Robbins plays the pitcher, Eddie Laloosh. Eddie soon takes the nickname "Nuke"; Crash decides "Meat" is a better way to condescend the undisciplined rookie.
Let me pause there, because this sound like we're going to get a fairy tale of how a cynical teacher and hotshot student will become better humans by the end of their journey. Thankfully, writer-director Ron Shelton was much smarter than this, and doesn't treat his story like a whimsical children's book. Crash and Nuke engage in some of the harshest (and funniest) banter in the history of comedies; the only times either learns anything from each other is because one just can't deal with the tension and submits. I won't give anything away, but if you've never seen this movie before, you'll thank me later when Nuke shakes off Crash's pitching calls --- twice! If for whatever reason you don't like Costner or Robbins, their perfect chemistry will change your mind. It's been 20 years since "Bull Durham", and both actors have rarely been better.
When this unbearable pairing of Crash & Nuke begins, they soon meet Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon). Annie is a strange blend of sexual creature and muse. She takes one player per season, and selects that player as her mate and student. In the hands of another actress or director, this would come off as sleazy & trashy. But once Annie begins to make her new choice stimulate his mind with poetry BEFORE satisfying his primal urges, it becomes clear that eroticism is not even a factor. You know, when I think of Sarandon, "sexy" is not the first word to come to my mind. But "Bull Durham" convinced me otherwise. Just look at the boxart! But then wait until you watch the performance: it's a treasure from her opening monologue to the emotional finale!
What results from the Crash/Nuke bickering, Annie's sensual tutoring, their bizarre triangle, and the adventurous Durham Bulls season is a movie that is achingly funny...but then Shelton gently pulls the curtain back to reveal some more layers.
I forgot the mention the Durham Bulls team name earlier because they're not the primary focus. I haven't revealed many plot points because the plot's mostly in the background. I can't recall any 'BIG GAMES' or 'TWISTS'. Hell, there's hardly any baseball for the last 30 minutes of the picture! What "Bull Durham" leaves with viewers are the characters & the little details. We don't care which games the Bulls won, but we remember the teammates' weird superstitions & conversations. Annie's teachings are incredibly silly, but she eventually acknowledges how ridiculous some of her behavior is. The three principals do discover their dreams, but in a most unlikely way. The romance is sweet, patient, and believable offbeat. Best of all, "Bull Durham" works on all paces --- it speeds up to make us laugh, and still keeps our attention when it slows down for reflection.
"Bull Durham" is a hard movie to describe because there's really nothing else like it. Ron Shelton has created a small-town comedy that resembles something from Frank Capra's mind. It's as much a celebration of life as it is a parody of it. There are no grossout gags; just strong acting and intelligent writing. The game of baseball is merely a catalyst of more meaningful ideas. But have no fear: there's plenty of baseball comedy for sports buffs.
"Bull Durham" includes the good times of a "movie", but earns its place as a "film" --- the perfect balance of entertainment and genius!
EXTRAS This new DVD won't come out until March 18th. Here's what's been advertised: * Audio Commentary from director Ron Shelton * Audio Commentary from Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins * "The Greatest Show On Dirt" featurette - Twenty years later the cast, crew and fans remember Bull Durham * "Diamonds In The Rough" featurette - Explores minor league baseball * "Between The Lines: The Making Of Bull Durham" featurette * "Kevin Costner Profile"
I'll come back and review these special features. Just looking at these Extras convinces me that the earlier DVD release will soon be obsolete."
Minor League Baseball Masterpiece
Mark J. Fowler | Okinawa, Japan | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ron Shelton spent some time in the minor leagues represented in his screenplay for Bull Durham, so he knows about the baseball things represented. But he also clearly has a gifted ear for the tempo of real life, and he knows about hopes and desires and the things that make human beings tick. The setting for this film with the minor league Durham Bulls works, and works perfectly, but the characters, especially among the central love triangle, could just as easily have been traveling salesmen or race drivers or con artists or gangsters.Susan Sarandon plays Annie Savoy, a slightly older woman who is a Durham Bulls groupie of sorts: once a season she picks out a promising young player and begins an affair with them. During that season the promising young player has the year of his life and gets called up to the big leagues, leaving Annie to look for next year's promising young player.The Bulls also have a million-dollar prospect of a pitcher with a right arm who the gods reached down and turned into a thunderbolt. He also has less control than a seven year old with hyperactive attention deficit disorder without his Ritalin. He's as likely to throw it over the backstop as throw a strike, although his "stuff" is like Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson. Tim Robbins brings "Nuke" LaLoosh to life in his best comic performance.Kevin Costner, in the best of his many baseball-movie appearances, plays "Crash" Davis, a power-hitting catcher with enough talent to be a leader on minor league teams, but only 21 days in "The Show" in years of minor league work. Crash is not only a competent minor league catcher though - he also knows the history of the game, and he knows how to get into the heads of players who have mental blocks preventing them from achieving all they can as baseball players.Crash, meet Nuke. Both of you - meet Annie.The dialogue is so witty and sparkling that more than a decade after the film's release, it still shows up frequently in discussions about baseball movies and on ESPN. Crash envies Nuke's god-given talent, and by degrees the clueless Nuke begins to appreciate Crash's baseball wisdom. Annie has the hots for both of them, and they for her, and the way this triangle evolves and resolves makes for a very satisfying baseball movie watching experience.The movie would be worth watching if only for the hilarious little scenes that happen out on the playing field between catcher Costner and pitcher Robbins. Nuke has the million-dollar arm and the ten-cent head. Crash knows his job (and everyone elses as well) like the back of his hand. Whenever Nuke starts trying to think for himself, he quickly gets into trouble, frequently with active assistance from Crash.Crash "calls" the game - signalling to the pitcher which pitches to throw. When Nuke listens things go well. When Nuke doesn't listen, Crash whispers to the hitter what pitch is coming so that the batter can tee off on the pitch. Then as the batter circles the bases after his home run Crash goes out to the mound to remind Nuke not to try thinking for himself. "Boy, the last thing I saw fly out of here like that had a stewardess and passengers on it!"Supporting parts are performed to hilarious perfection as well, with particular kudos to Trey Wilson as the manager and Robert Wuhl as a team coach. They have many entertaining scenes, including the one following Nuke's minor-league debut - when he struck out 18..... but also walked 18 - both league records! A must for grown-up baseball fans."
The best sports movie ever (so far, anyway)
Craig MACKINNON | Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada | 11/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is that it's not really about baseball, but about baseball players. As such, the movie does NOT lead to an annoying, cheesy climax like most sports movies (i.e. the big game). Instead, it starts about a dozen games into the season and ends a few months later, with no mention of playoffs or championships. During this time, players are released/traded, get married, etc. The main characters are a veteran catcher (Costner) brought in to help mature the young gun with the big fastball and no brains (Robbins). Both are stellar performances by actors that were little known at the time.It is a very funny movie. The tone is maintained perfectly throughout the whole show, so you become absorbed and care about the characters, even the peripheral ones. The parallel story, about the relationship between the main characters and the team's groupie (Sarandan) is also entertaining, amusing, and interesting.I personally prefer the baseball story over the romance story - the romance well done, but standard. The director, Shelton, was a minor league player for several years, and there are numerous little details that make the story ring true - time on the busses, meetings on the pitcher's mound, etc.As for this DVD edition, there are not a lot of extras, except for a director's commentary. It's almost more of a writer's commentary, as Shelton also wrote the story. I'm always surprised at how candid directors are at pointing out scenes they don't like. Especially interesting are his description of scenes that were cut (unfortunately, these scenes are not included as extras), and why they were axed. He also relates the "true stories" behind a number of the antics that appear in the movie. There is one complaint of his that I can't agree with - he apologises a number of times for certain scenes that don't look as good as they could, but this is a strength of the movie. A movie about the minor leagues should have an unpolished look - it adds to the authenticity."
BUll Durham remains a thoughtful baseball classic...
R.A. McKenzie | 07/29/1997
(5 out of 5 stars)
" I recently saw Bull Durham for the first time, and I must admit, I was touched by something very profound within it, something that is of almost unspeakable power, a certain quality that only a few movies have: the ability to tell you something about yourself, something about all men, something about the world, and something about life, all at once. Something About Yourself- I played baseball for six or seven years when I was younger, and it still remains my favorite game. I remember collecting cards, discussing the undefinable "potential" some rookies had and others did not, and reading scores of books on the subject. I had a child's lovely obsession with the game. This obsession also drove me to learn a painful lesson, when I was caught shoplifting baseball cards one summer day. Yet even this did not kill the dream. I remain in love with the game to this very day. Bull Durham reminded me of all this and more. It unlocked memories of baseball camp, of the boyhood dreams of "making it", of feel of the bat, the smell of the grass, the look of the dirt, the sound of the sky... Bull Durham reminded me what baseball was all about, and brought back memories spanning the vast spectrum of my soul, both pleasent and not. Something About All Men- In Bull Durham there are several different characters, all driven by one force- ambition, the search for success, the need for glory. All the men in the movie want to reach "the show"- the major leagues. You see, Bull Durham tells the story of a minor league team, with all the men hoping they will make it big one day. This aspiration is the core of all men and women, and is almost distinctly human. Do wolves constantly search to better themselves? Do whales? All men have ambition, and the pain and pleasure is causes is what Bull Durham is all about. Something About The World- Some people say the world isn't fair. They are the right ones. The main character in the movie, Crash Davis, perennially has his dream defeated, after 12 years of waiting, while the young pitcher he is assigned to train, Nuke, makes it after not even one. Nuke has talent, the movie says, and the world loves talent. No amount of Crash's humility, his intelligence, his love for the game can deliver him, though by all means he deserves to make it. To be even crueller, life tempts him by allowing him 21 days in the major leagues, years ago. This taste of victory haunts him for the rest of his life. Bull Durham also shows that there is no sadder cathedral than a minor league ballpark, for it is there that the prayers of thousands of men die quietly into the night. It is there that these men watch there dreams rot and decay before them. It is there that the lucky few who ascend are less deserving than the damned who aspire rightly. It is there that the world is least fair. Bull Durham is one of the most profound movies I have ever seen, raising questions of Man's futility and the constant frustration at the unfairness of life. Throughout this review I have told almost nothing about the plot, the characters, the story. That's because they all take second place to the moral implications, and the themes this movie brings forth. Summary=I heavily recommend this movie to anyone who loves baseball, anyone who loves movies, and anyone who loves poetry and philosophy. A fantastic movie. Fans should check out Costners others baseball flick, Field of Dreams. Review= Evan Stephens END"
The Audio Commentary w/ Kevin C. & Tim R. is Lots of Fun!
Mr. | USA | 04/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love baseball, then odds are you've seen & love Bull Durham, a sexy fun dramady starring Kevin Costner, Susan Surandon & Tim Robbins. It's easily one of the best baseball movies ever made and the first of three in Mr. Costner's Baseball Trilogy (Field of Dreams & For Love of The Game would follow). The extra features included in this Special Edition are pretty nice. Plus I also enjoyed the extra outer packaging sleeve that comes with the DVD case. It's all white and looks like a big baseball. The classic picture of Kevin standing next to a car with a beer in one hand and a bat in the other, with Susan perched beside him is still what's on the actual DVD case. For the first time we actually get the trailers to Bull Durham and I really enjoyed watching the teaser & theatrical trailers. But does anyone remember the original TV spots which always ended with the bathtub scene and seeing the candles getting put out with a splash of water? The new making of documentary: Between the Lines, is a nice retrospective look back at the movie, with everyone involved, from Kevin, Susan & Tim, to director Ron Shelton himself, plus Robert Wuhl and others. What also makes it fun is real Bull Durham baseball players also comment on the film and really give you the dirt on how it measured up to really being in the minors. The other featurettes: Kevin Costner Profile & Sports Wrap are a little disappointing because they're very short (maybe 4 minutes each) and aren't new, just old featurettes made during the filming of the movie. But they're still nice to have. The Photo Gallery is nice too, but don't expect a lot of pics. There's about maybe a hundred or so. Now some of you will be surprised to learn that the Joe Cocker music video is not on the DVD. I mean it might be a hidden easter egg but I doubt it. More likely they were unable to get the rights to it and therefore not allowed to include it on the disc. Which is sad because it's a great song. I was lucky enough to get the soundtrack on CD which has been out of print for years. They really should re-release it because the songs are just wonderful!The audio commentaries included are both fun & insightful. If you own the previous release of Bull Durham on DVD then you already have the Ron Shelton commentary which I enjoyed a lot. He gives a lot of great stories and explanations about the film that really open your eyes a bit more. But the real gem is the new commentary between Kevin Costner & Tim Robbins. One thing you'll notice right away is all the scenes Kevin talks about that didn't make the final cut. It's a real shame there's no deleted scenes section on this DVD so we could actually see them because they sound pretty good. There's a couple of freindly jabs from Kevin on how Tim was lucky enough to end up with Susan Surandon and how he didn't even know they were dating during filming. It does get a little intense when the love scene between she and Kevin comes up. Tim says "This is the part of the movie I don't like watching". But Kevin handles the tension nicely like a pro and talks about other things during the scene. It's a lot of fun. I wish these guys did another movie togeher! The ironic thing I noticed is that Ron Shelton states that, regarding the famous speech given by Kevin at Susan's house, that he doesn't really like it and would not've written it the same way had he made the film today. While Kevin, in his audio commentary says that it's a great speech but he didn't deliver it well enough and the strength of it lies with the words themsleves. That's what made it powerful, not his acting. Personally I think he's too hard on himself. Plus I always smile during the part of the speech when he says "I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone", since Kevin starred in JFK. It's a great speech and he does it perfectly.
For some reason MGM decided to give both a widescreen version and a standard pan & scan version for this DVD release, which means no cover art on the front of the disc. I don't understand why they needed the standard version since the film only has a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. But one reason you may want to consider keeping your old copy of Bull Durham on DVD is that the previous release was presented in THX for superior picture and sound quality. The new special edition version is not. And I think the THX version does look better too. Guess MGM didn't feel like using it for their release.You don't have to be a baseball fan to love this movie. The acting is great, the characters are great, the music is timeless, & the romantic side is just as strong and touching as anything else. Pick up this special edition of Bull Durham. While your at it, pick up the rest of Mr. Costner's baseball trilogy on DVD and then watch 'em all back to back. You'll be glad you did.Bull Durham -Rated the #1 Sports Movie of All Time by Sports Illustrated"I'm the player to be named later" - Kevin Costner as Crash Davis"