But what separates Bull Durham from the rest of the crowd is that the film is not at all about a teamís quest to win the championship- itís more about the characters, their love lives and their evolution as humans (don't worry it's not as existential as I'm making it sound). The fact that the script comes from a former minor league ballplayer and one of the great sports film writers of all-time doesnít hurt either.
Writer/director Ron Shelton (White Men Can't Jump) infuses the seldom-seen world of minor league baseball with such wit and authenticity that itís hard not to be engaged in the stories of the under-appreciated workhorses of America's pastime. Sure these guys may not have thousands of screaming fans, but theyíve got feelings and stories and work just as hard as the superstars (when theyíre not busy chasing tail or starting bar fights) and we find ourselves relating to them more than we ever expected to. As an added bonus, itís one of the most quotable films Iíve ever seen. (ďWilliam Blake?!Ē)
Costner nowadays is well-known for playing over-the-hill athletes (Tin Cup, For Love of the Game) and for playing a baseball die-hard (Field of Dreams). But it was his role here as Crash, a wise-cracking, fast-talking minor league catcher, that really broke him onto the scene. Heís terrific and hilarious here, a perfect compliment to co-star Tim Robbins, who is equally comical as a young, unruly pitcher with a shot at making it to ďthe showĒ if he can just get his head out of his ass. It may seem like a simple enough premise, but once Sarandon (who has just as much baseball knowledge as either of the boys) wedges herself in between the two, she forms one hell of a fun little love triangle and things take off.
If the film has any shortcomings, it would only be the aforementioned lack of the traditional conflict of trying to win it all. I had no problem with it, but if youíre looking for a film in the vein of Major League, where you can laugh and cheer for your team to win, this isnít the film for you. Bull Durham isnít about the merits of teamwork, itís about the singular battles each of us go through in this sport called life.
Audio Commentary by Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins: Few men have had as much fun with each other on commentaries as these two great actors have here. This isnít really a technical track as much as two old friends reminiscing.
Diamonds in the Rough (15:55) - A pretty cool little feature about grueling but fun life in the real minor leagues.
Between the Lines: Behind the Scenes of Bull Durham (29:18) - A traditional, in-depth making of, but wth very little on-set footage.
Kevin Costner profile (2:05) - I love Costner but this 80ís ode to the man just feels pointless.
Sports Wrap (2:55) - Another cheesy 80ís promo piece with narration so goofy it sounds like it was written by Joey Gladstone.
The Greatest Show on Dirt (19:23) - Crew, some cast (not the stars) and baseball aficionados alike reminisce about the film and the impact it has had.
All special features are on Disc 2, which also contains a DVD Copyof the film.
Just don't ask me what the heck the title means.