Bull Durham Movie Review

The first thing you notice in watching Bull Durham 14 years later (now that it has reappeared on a Special Edition DVD) is how incredibly young the players are. Costner's hairline is way up front, Sarandon is a little less wrinkled, and little Tim Robbins looks like he could be in high school.

The story, however, still feels ahead of its time, with Sarandon's femme fatale narrating a tale of how she adopts one player at her local Durham Bulls minor league baseball franchise every year -- providing him with countless years of expertise about the game and essentially screwing him silly along the way. This season, it's "Nuke" LaLoosh (Robbins), a wild pitcher who could use same taming. Also on the case is catcher "Crash" Davis (Costner), whose life lessons also help him out on the field.

But Bull Durham is of course as much a romance as it is a sports flick. Almost more so. The sports scenes are confined to vignettes between Nuke and Crash, and the characters don't even finish out the season with the Bulls (unlike virtually every other baseball film I can think of -- including the Gen-X Durham clone Summer Catch -- which invariably end with victory at The Big Game). Rather, the movie is fondly remembered for its love scenes (including a famously candlelit bathtub), soliloquies ("the small of a woman's back"), and the unaplogetic sluttiness of Sarandon's Annie. Robbins must have been hooked -- the two got married in real life that very year and have produced one of Hollywood's most vocal, leftist partnerships.

For all its hosannas, Sarandon (who actively campaigned to get the part) can be a little annoying, particularly when her accent thickens up during her many long monologues, most of which border on cheesy. Robbins' Nuke isn't particularly memorable, either. In my mind, this is really Costner's movie, and frankly, it's one of his best.

Whether you're a big fan or just an admirer, you'll love the new DVD, which features a commentary from Costner and Robbins and a newly produced making-of documentary, among other features. It's altogether a... solid triple.


Bull Durham Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1988


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