“ Genre: Romance / Theatrical Release: 1988 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Ron Shelton / Actors: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl ... / DVD released 2002-05-06 at MGM Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Dubbed, PAL, Widescreen „
I have watched a number of Kevin Costner films, some where he's had a hand in directing and some where he is just acting and normally most things he turns his hand to are a success and he puts in a solid performance and this effort with Bull Durham is no exception. There are not a huge amount of baseball movies out there or at least weren't when this was released in 1988 so it was something a little different.
Although Kevin Costner plays a big role in this movie, I think the central character is really Annie played by Susan Sarandon. Annie is a real baseball groupie and addict and every year she selects a player from the Durham Bulls to share a bed with her and therefore benefit from her life wisdom. You see she is a philosopher as well and is intelligent and well-read.
She chooses on this particular occassion a rather dim rookie by the name of Ebby LaLoosh played by Tim Robbins. He is a sought after pitcher who is one of the best up and coming stars but doesn't have too much intelligence. Unfortunately she realises rather late that she should have chosen a veteran catcher at the end of his career called Crash Davis played by Kevin Costner.
The movie develops into a blossoming relationship between the two of them as they share their experiences in life with one another and Kevin Costner is very good as the worldly Crash who tries to teach the rookie a thing or two about life in general.
Both Costner and Sarandon really engaged me and drew me into the film. They were the ones that get you interested in the story line and there are some laughs along the way and some interesting views on the bigger picture, namely the game of life. Overall, recommended, but not for family viewing as it's an 18 certificate.
I'm really not keen on Kevin Costner. Except when he's good - and he has to be pretty damn good for me to overcome my antipathy and admit it (so far only this and Tin Cup spring readily to mind - what is it with Costner and over-the-hill sports stars?)
But yes, the man who'll never quite live down being ridiculed for telling Madonna her live show was 'neat' puts in a cracking performance as 'Crash' Davies, a veteran baseball player who's been around the block more than a few times. Reduced to playing catcher for the minor league Durham Bulls, Davies encounters and spars against Tim Robbins's rising rookie star, the dumb but fun 'Nuke' Laloosh, with a degree of wry cynicism. He also finds a connection with Susan Sarandon, who is equally as good as the groupie-with-depths who is involved with both Davies and Laloosh.
The performances, together with a genuinely funny script, engaging plot and believable portrayal of small-town American life put this late '80s offering far above the (generally dismal) calibre of the average romantic comedy. And although the story and characters are centred around baseball, non-baseball and indeed non-sports fans will find this equally enjoyable. A little comedy gem.
Bull Durham is the directorial debut of Ron Shelton (who was himself quite a fine baseball player without making the big leagues) and focusses on three main characters; Ageing minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), young gun pitcher Ebby 'Nuke' La Loosh (Tim Robbins) and baseball groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon).
Annie is a lady that rather comically always selects and dates a player for the Durham Bulls and will continue to date them for the entire season. In this particular season she is taken by a young pitcher called Ebby.
Ebby is a newcomer to the Bulls and is talented but erratic so the club decide to bring in an experienced catcher, Crash, who is given the task of helping to guide and nurture Ebby and get him to the big leagues. Their relationship hardly gets off to a good start but eventually Ebby starts to knuckle down and learn from Crash, and this produces results.
The interesting subplot to the main body of the film is the three-way 'love traingle' between the main characters. Annie seemed very taken with Crash and seems to be leaning towards the opinion that she had picked the wrong guy to date. Crash isn't really one for such games however.
All of the main characters are very likeable which helps them to sizzle on screen. Costner and Sarandon's characters have great on screen rapport and the idea is for the audience to will them on to get together because it seems like a much better match.
The baseball scenes are of a very good quality, which you would expect really given the past experiences of the director. You sometimes sense that perhaps Crash is possibly representing Shelton, as we get a real emotional feel for the character as he never quite made it to the very top level.
The ability to mix sporting themes with themes on life and particularly relationships is somethig Shelton is obviously very skilled at, he seems to be accepting of the fact that all sports are just a little more than the actual playing of an event but in fact in many ways life can be compared to sport and vice versa.
Each of the three main characters perform their roles unerringly and with a great feel for their alter egos.
Sarandon plays Annie, who has the dual role of being a nurturing figure for Ebby and an equal sensual being when around Crash. Costner plays Crash and completely embodies the hard luck story that the character befits, he is a ruggedly attractive and hard working baseballer that just wasn't polished enough for the big leagues and we real feel this.
Robbins has perhaps the most difficult role of all as Ebby, and it would be an easy character to fall by the wayside. Robbins manages to soften up his tall and imposing figure by using his disarming smile and slightly awkward looks, it is a character the audience could really hate but I am confident he pulls it off.
Liking Bull Durham is in no way solely linked to liking baseball , because although it is a completely loved movie and probably always will be amongst the baseball fan community, it also says plenty about life and relations and how sometimes your dreams don't come true but do so for others.
A genuinely heartwarming film. Perhaps surprisingly so. One of my personal favourite sports films.
This films is available at the very reasonable price of £4.99 for DVD format on play.com, this is excellent value.