Bull Durham (1988) (R)
Baseball and sex. Hmmm, interesting way to start; but perhaps the most apropos way that there ever has been. "Bull Durham" has an incredibly promising first few minutes so if this was a short film, it would have been a home run (you'll have to pardon the puns, I'm just giving you fair warning). But the movie didn't stop there and Ron Shelton's writing didn't either, because it barrels you into scene after scene of wince-inducing Kevin Costner.
I think that Costner's movies are shown to people trying to pass lie detector tests in case the question ever arises: "How do I appear completely and totally emotionless." Just ask Kevin, he's got the answers.
The movie begins with the anti-religious sentiment that baseball is the finest church there has ever been, well, that's the case for Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), a sexy and immediately likable woman whose life is baseball. This woman doesn't like anything but baseball. It's what she lives, eats, breathes, and yes, screws. Annie takes it upon herself to have sex with a minor leaguer once a season to boost them to the major leagues, because duh that's what all the women do.
When the Durham Bulls enter a new season they debut a new pitcher Ebby LaLoosh (Tim Robbins, baby-faced). This man is more concerned with having sex with the girls in the locker room before the games and when he's rebuked for it, he shoots some quirky one-liner back at his coach and then proceeds to make a mockery of the game of baseball.
Enter Crash Davis (Kevin Coster) who has seen the major leagues but is very silent about it. Why? Because he's a Yoda-like character. Good sport baseball is. He parades as a know-it-all and just becomes a complete douche...because that's how these men are made.
Seriously though, there is no way you're going to convince me that Crash Davis is a badass, try as best as you can, I won't believe it. The movie does try its best and sadly that's just not enough. I think the lines are there for the movie to be great, but Costner's odd monotone delivery doesn't help the film at all.
The film is just goofy. It blows this way and that ranging from cross-dressing to sex jokes and back again. This film has every character parading around as a sex-hungry maniac and that's just not how I see things. Sure, it's supposed to be a comedy but when you consider what's actually happening around the diamond, it's less funny than even its bland jokes.
Shelton seems determined to knife religion which he does many times, most notably when he marries the only Christian character off to the sluttiest girl in town. I don't have a problem with his offensiveness, I have a problem because these little side-tracks are completely pointless and rarely add up to anything.
The plot is fairly heroic. Man must overcome obstacles and claim wenches...no surprise when it happens. It's very archaic and somewhat offensive, but hey, aren't we all?
This brings around the question: why are there no good baseball movies? Baseball isn't that exciting for me, maybe that's why I can't get into any baseball movies; but surely you can find a way to make it interesting. For crying out loud "Man on Wire" made tight-rope walking interesting.
At the end of all the sex, all the baseball, all the Kevin Costner posturing I think the most interesting thing that we could gleam from the movie is that Walt Whitman may have written some pretty smutty stuff. I'd love to read that instead of subject myself to this again.
Posted by Micah Jones