And another baseball film makes the list. It was for that reason alone I was ready to generally dismiss Bull Durham, but damn if I didn’t get a heck of a lot more wrapped up in it than I was prepared for. I find it amusing that the label “that Kevin Costner baseball film” doesn’t narrow it down to one picture, not even on the list anymore, and add The Natural into the mix and you’ve got quite the baseball trifecta going on. Thankfully, Bull Durham gives a different enough experience to justify its own existence, and maybe even its slot on the list, if only barely for the latter.
Kevin Costner is Crash Davis, a long-time catcher in the minor leagues who gets brought on to the Durham Bulls to bring up Ebby LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins, a hotshot new pitcher with the talent for “The Show” but no skill or discipline to back it up; hence why Crash is hired to straighten him into a real star. Along the way, baseball fan and frequenter of the Durham games, Annie, ends up in a sort-of love triangle with the two men, providing an extra bit of conflict outside the diamond. The plot was okay; it got the job done, if sometimes tangentially, but for my money, what really makes this film is the characters. Crash rarely does what a decent person would expect in any situation, and it became a fun game of “what’s he gonna do now?” with every passing scene. Robbins, usually the slick or studded straight-man dramatic player, here gives most of the comic relief through generally acting like the dunderhead his character is, which was somewhat out of step for him, though you wouldn’t think it watching him in this. I should also give special mention to the soundtrack, which chose damn near the perfect song for whatever scene or scenario it was used in, which provided an even greater bit of surface-level enjoyment to the film. I found it appropriate that the first credit to roll by in the ending credits was the music supervisor for this reason.
The ending did go on a little longer than it should’ve, but that aside, there was a good deal to like about this one. Many have said that there’s more to this than just being a baseball film, and they’re right, but what I especially enjoyed was how every other thing that could reasonably be cited as the core of the film all somehow related back to baseball either way. It’s a baseball film, and it’s more than that, but it was how it was more than that that made it even more of a baseball film; a funny little ongoing loop that I’m sure was the filmmakers’ intent. This was fairly enjoyable, and decently well made, though again I’m not sure the list needs three baseball films on it, but I’ll take it either way.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10