Bull Durham (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) has made the rounds as a minor league catcher, but he has always been a solid player and known for his skills. His latest assignment has him joining the Durham Bulls, a Class A team with a real problem on their hands, a young pitcher with a rocket for an arm and oatmeal for brains, or so it would seem. The pitcher is rookie “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), who throws fast, hard, and can hit any mark he needs to, but his bad attitude and wild persona sometimes cost him performance points. So, Crash has been called in to take LaLoosh under his wing as it were, to help him get control over himself, especially when it comes to the mound. But LaLoosh has no respect for the game, more interested in the cash & fame, whereas Crash loves baseball above all other things, so there is a clash from the start. As Crash tries to settle the rookie down, a woman named Annie (Susan Sarandon) enters the picture, but she is no stranger to the Bulls, not even close. Soon enough, a love triangle is formed between the two players and Annie, which makes the process even tougher, of course. Can Crash mentor LaLoosh into respecting the game and what will become of Annie’s affections, when all is said & done?

I wouldn’t call Bull Durham the best sports movie ever made, but it is a great one and deserves all the praise it gets, perhaps even more. This Ron Shelton directed film takes a path with less slapstick than most movies of its kind, but it is still hilarious. The humor is more based in the dialogue and characters, instead of blatant stereotypes or outlandish sight gags, making a more literate, but still often crude picture. Shelton has his finger on the pulse of sports cinema as always, crafting a film that blends the sports angle into the material, as opposed to using it for a mere backdrop or excuse to assemble a band of misfits. Yes, this is as realistic when it comes to sports as you could want, which is one of the reasons it sits toward the top of the sports cinema ladder, without a doubt. Kevin Costner leads a credible cast that includes Tim Robbins, Robert Wuhl, and Susan Sarandon, all of whom are in top form in Bull Durham. If you’re a fan of baseball movies or just want to see a rowdy, hilarious sports picture, then Bull Durham is easily recommended.

These days, he is often the brunt of criticism, insults, and even hatred, but no matter what people say, Kevin Costner is an excellent performer. His choice in roles and projects isn’t flawless, but he seems to have a passion for his work and all things considered, I feel as though his hits far outnumber his misses. I know some of you will email some tirade against it, but I like Costner’s screen presence and in Bull Durham, even his critics have to give him some props. He nails the role here and really enhances the picture, proving he can shoulder a movie when he needs to. Yes, his supporting players are great too, but this is Costner’s show and he is dead on here. So like him or not, you have to admit that he is excellent here, no doubt about it. Other films with Costner include The Postman, Thirteen Days, Field of Dreams, Waterworld, Silverado, and A Perfect World. The cast also includes Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Dead Man Walking), Robert Wuhl (Batman, Blue Chips), and Tim Robbins (Nothing to Lose, Arlington Road).

Video: How does it look?

It?s somewhat hard to believe, but ?Bull Durham? is approaching its 25th anniversary. That being said, the 1.85:1 HD transfer (MPEG-2) does look like the movie is showing its age a bit. There?s some grain evident in most of the film and while not too terribly distracting, it?s always there. The early part of the movie also has somewhat of a ?dirtiness? to it, but it goes away pretty quickly. Detail has been improved over the standard DVD offering few years back. So while this isn?t the pristine image that we?d all hoped for, it is the best the film has ever looked on a home video format.

Audio: How does it sound?

We get a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, but it?s sound more along the lines of a Dolby surround mix. Dialogue is very strong and though surrounds do kick in on occasion, the meat of the action is in the front stage. There are some times when the fans (at the baseball game) to create some ambiance, but those are very few and far between. Sports movies are often hit and miss and more often than not, sports movies aren?t always about sports (this is the case with ?Bull Durham?). Like the video, the audio is good, but don?t expect to be blown away.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is a bit tricky as there are no supplements on the Blu-ray disc itself. No, there?s a second disc with all the included supplements from the standard DVD a few years back. This is nice to have, but what?s the point if you want to listen to a commentary while watching the Blu-ray version of the movie? Still, for those that are interested, there are two commentary tracks. The first is with writer/director Ron Shelton and is a solid track on the whole, as Shelton relates how he developed the story, shares his own baseball memories, and touches on various behind the scenes topics. The second track is with stars Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins, who also provide a worthwhile selection of comments. The two have a candid, open conversation and reveal some great behind the scenes stories, including the challenges of getting the film made, as well as production tales. Next up is Between the Lines, a newly created behind the scenes featurette that runs just under half an hour. This piece has a nice selection of interviews, which contain additional insight and some fluff, but mostly good, solid interviews. This disc also contains a featurette on Costner, a Sports Wrap featurette, some still photos, and the film’s theatrical & teaser trailers.

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