Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Bull Durham (1988)
Bull Durham doesn’t conform to the usual formula for sports movies. In fact, I’d argue, it’s not a sports movie at all. It’s a romantic comedy with baseball as the background. Kind of like Fever Pitch. Crash Davis, an aging minor leaguer, is brought onto the Durham Bulls to mentor young and wild Nuke LaLoosh. But, coming between the two, other than the stubbornness of each man, is Annie Savoy, a local baseball junkie and unofficial team trainer, who chooses each season to sleep with one player from the team, and through her tutelage, that player has the best season of his career. She chooses Nuke, much to Crash’s dismay. And so begins the back and forth between the three.
Like I said earlier, this film doesn’t meet the expectations of a usual sports movie. There is no big rival team that crushes the team in the first game of the season, only to lose to in a nail-biter to that same team in the championship game. There is no great number of locker room antics; I can’t think of a single player on the team other than Nuke and Crash. Though, in what probably became a model for Major League’s Pedro Cerano, there was a player who blessed his bat with chicken-bones.
The championship game in this movie is Nuke’s ascension to the majors, “the show,” and Crash’s ascension to retirement, a completely different kind of game, because he has Annie, and they have quite an adventure ahead of them. Cue sappy romance music.
One last thought: Even though this movie doesn’t conform to the usual formula of a sports movie, that’s not to say it is a bad movie. It isn’t. I enjoyed it; Annie’s bizarre metaphysical diatribes about the connections between baseball, sex and religion were well-written and amusing, and Tim Robbins portrayal of Nuke impressed me, because Robbins always does; he has amazing range as an actor, from the comedic (The Hudsucker Proxy), the tragic (The Shawshank Redemption), and the villainous (Arlington Road; very cool movie). So, overall, Bull Durham is worth the time it takes to watch.