Bull Durham (1988)
Nuke and Aging Bull Crash
She may get woolly.... young girls they do get woolly... 'cause of all the stress... yeahhhh... when they get woolly, try a little tenderness - Nuke
A common misconception when you mention the Kevin Costner movie "Bull Durham" is that it is a sports movie about baseball. Honestly, "Bull Durham" maybe a movie set in the world of sport but it is more a witty, romantic movie which focuses on the relationship between 3 people rather than what actually happens on the baseball field. Yes, there is baseball action, much of which provides the witty banter that lifts the storyline when it slows down but it is only really their to tell a love story, not a great love story, but a fun one which works and makes "Bull Durham" memorable.
Having spent serious money on untested pitcher Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh (Tim Robbins - Top Gun) and in the midst of a slump The Durham Bulls employ veteran ballplayer Crash Davis (Kevin Costner - The Untouchables) to take on the job as catcher but also as mentor to the young 'Nuke' LaLoosh. But Annie (Susan Sarandon - The Witches of Eastwick), a sexy older baseball groupie, comes between Crash and Ebby and starts teaching them all about life & love on and off the field.
As already mentioned "Bull Durham" is set in the world of baseball, something which debutant director Ron Shelton became renowned for as several of his subsequent movies were also set in the world of sports, but unlike many "sports" movies Shelton is not so much interested in the actual game rather than the people. This is why "Bull Durham" has a much greater appeal than many baseball movies as it doesn't bog you down with how baseball works rather than the interesting relationships of the three main protagonists. Honestly it is not very deep, takes little brain power to watch and pretty much predictable but then it is also entertaining. Shelton knows where the movie works best and focuses on those elements allowing the movie to flow surprisingly naturally and at a well balanced pace to boot.
Whilst the focus of "Bull Durham" is on the relationships it is impossible for it not to show some baseball action. Thankfully you are never bogged down with the mechanics of the sport, often using it to provide a good array of laughs rather than anything else. When Crash winds up Ebby over his erratic pitching be it on the field or the wonderfully amusing bar scene, it is that light hearted moment which helps provide the movie with a natural humour and injection of fun. But although providing entertainment the baseball does provide some moving moments especially as the character of Crash is basically approaching the end of his career whilst Ebby is just embarking on his. It gives "Bull Durham" a further dimension so that the movie has a depth beyond just the three way romance between Crash, Ebby And Annie.
When it comes to performances well Kevin Costner's performance as Crash Davis is one of my favourites from the star and shows that with the right material he excels. It's a charming performance from Costner as the baseball player who knows he is heading towards the end of his career, it's both fun and sympathetic but most importantly convincing, much of which can be put down to his love of the game. Alongside Costner is the unbelievably sexy Susan Sarandon the baseball groupie, Annie, who each year takes one player under her wings and into her bed. Sarandon is an absolute knock out and gives her character a "Mrs. Robinson" feel and unbelievably sexy in doing so, quite happy to flaunt her body in a very evocative yet tasteful and amusing manner. Joining Costner and Sarandon is Tim Robbins as the naive Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh who epitomises the crass saying "Young, Dumb and full of ....". But the thing is the three of them work well together and are completely believable in their individual roles.
As for the supporting cast & characters well they are seriously over shadowed by the top performances from the main trio, but none of them are in any way terrible.
What this all boils down to is that "Bull Durham" is a good movie which despite set in the world of baseball is not so much about the sport but 3 people involved in it. It is amazingly entertaining, packed full of romantic drama, fun and flirtation yet also with moments which are surprisingly moving. It's not a great love story but a fun one and allows Kevin Costner to prove why he is at times such a good actor.
Tags: Baseball Movies
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