Bull Durham ★★★½

Criterion Collection Spine #936

For the love of America's favorite past time and sex!

"The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self-awareness."

Bull Durham and 'Field of Dreams' are two of the classic baseball movies that I have just never gotten around to seeing. So Bull Durham's inclusion into the Criterion Collection finally encouraged me to check it out, and it makes for a light/enjoyable sports romantic comedy. In the story, Susan Sarandon plays Annie whose two biggest passions in life are for her favorite minor league baseball team The Durham North Carolina Bulls, and hooking up with a different player each season. But things get a little more complicated when raw up and coming pitching prospect Nuke LaLoosh played by Tim Robbins, has to compete with his veteran on-field mentor and catcher Crash Davis played by Kevin Costner for this season's spot in Annie's bed.

"This son of a bitch is throwing a two-hit shutout. He's shaking me off. You believe that shit?"

My favorite part of Bull Durham were all the on-field antics that go on between the humorous players and coaches, especially the assistant coach played by Robert Wuhl. I loved the scene where a bunch of the players meet up at the mound to complain about what is distracting them, and then Crash breaks it all down for the assistant coach who has been sent to figure out what's going on. The comedy reminded of a lighter version of what we would see in the baseball comedy 'Major League' the following year.

"You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry! ... Lollygaggers!"

From a technical aspect, the only element that stood out to me was the excellent sound design. For instance how crisp the sound of the crack of the bat was against a baseball.

While I liked Crash and Annie, they are the focus of my issues with the movie. Kevin Costner is a natural in this role but some of his line deliveries are so stiff and cheesy. I may only notice this now that I am more critical of movies, and I am curious to see if I still notice it in some of his later movies that I enjoy like 'Dances with Wolves' and 'Robin Hood'.

His rivalry with Nuke is also a lot of fun, especially with how convincing Robbins plays being this stubborn and clueless jock that Crash has nicknamed 'meat'. The story does a great job of capturing the mentality of guys on the minor league circuit, with Crash having reached the height of the game but now on his way out, and Nuke on the rise but struggling to hone his talent. And we come to see that all Nuke really has to do is stop overthinking his pitching. And Annie is the one that finds just the right way to help to distract him in order to get him pitching great. And we are left so intrigued by how Annie has become so good at analyzing players, as just a passionate fan of her team. Then the cliches he learns from Crash are spot on, for explaining why athletes talk the way they do in interviews.

"I believe in the Church of Baseball."

Annie is a great well-written character but I was having trouble buying into Susan Sarandon being this irresistible 'fox' that can get any man that she wants. Her performance is great and she comes off so sweet, but she just seems a little too old for this role and reminds me of my mother. Annie and her friend being so sweet but promiscuous was an interesting dynamic, and I found them to be likable while never coming off as slutty. (How about that wedding cake topper LOL)

It is funny that I thought the movie was going to end a few minutes earlier than it actually did. We seem them dancing and I thought for sure it was over. But then Crash takes off and goes to work for another team, only for him to come back to Annie a short time later. Then we get another dance scene where we actually get those end credits I was expecting. I guess they felt the need to show that Crash's playing days were truly over, but for me it just felt tacked on.

It is surprising how well the name of the movie works despite it not really making sense, since the name of the team is actually The Durham Bulls. Overall I think Bull Durham does a great job of presenting an authentic and amusing story about two ballplayers butting heads over their sport, and about the woman behind their success.

Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching... Cheers!