Major League

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When I go down my list of all-time favorite movies, two are always at the top. The ever-popular Caddyshack and this little gem from the late 1980’s are always number 1 and 2 (respectively). Granted, the formula has been done so many times before that it’s now a clich╬ś, but it worked better here for some reason. The cast was talented and even provided a launching pad for three of today’s better-known actors. Rene Russo, Dennis Haysbert and Wesley Snipes all got their start in this movie and have since gone onto successful movie careers. Add to the formula Corbin Bernsen, Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen (re-teaming from their Platoon days) and you have a cast of top-notch stars. Major League, like so many others like it (Slap shot, The Mighty Ducks and Necessary Roughness), take a group of hopelessly incompatible people and put them in a predicament (in this case, the Cleveland Indians are in danger of losing their franchise and having it relocated it to Miami) and watch them all come together as a team. What seemed to work with this film is the fact that it was all true (in the sense of the game). At the time, the Indians were the worst team around, something that has drastically changed almost since the movie came out. After a few Division titles and a World Series appearance, there really isn’t a point to poking fun at the Indians anymore, but at the time it was perfect.

The plot of the film is rather simple, but its the characters that make it work. The owner of the Cleveland Indians has died and his ex-showgirl wife now has control of the team. The Indians, true to form, haven’t had a winning season in 15 years and she’s hoping to put together a team so bad (bear in mind the team is already bad) that it will drive attendance down even further and she can get out of the lease with the city. This will, in turn, open up the team to relocate to Miami where she can live like a queen. The film eerily predicts the expansion boom of the 1990’s when baseball wasn’t in places like Arizona and Florida. As mentioned above, the central cast of characters make this film work. Rich Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) has to be let out of prison to play, an ex-All Star, Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) is called up from the Mexican league and the manager of the team is the manger of a tire plant (Tire World). Truly a group of misfits! This, however, is only half the team. Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) has defected from Cuba to practice his religion, Voodoo and he clashes with the seemingly “normal” guy in the bunch, Harris (Chelcie Ross) whose devout Christianity is a source of tension with Cerrano. Lastly, Willie Mays Hays (Wesley Snipes) gets on the team just by showing up at camp…univited!

From here we can essentially assume what will happen next. As the resources of the team are slowly getting cut off (presumably because the team losing), the team learns of the owner’s plan to relocate the team to Miami. Needless to say, they’re all pretty ticked and they figure the best way to get back at her is to win every game they can. In one of the better sequences (to me, anyway) the team goes on an incredible winning streak and ends up in the playoffs against, you guessed it, the New York Yankees. Another thing I liked was the fact that they used real teams as I always find it not so believable when teams like the "Sharks" play the "Bears" (i.e. Any Given Sunday). While Major League might not be the greatest movie around, it’s one of my personal favorites. If you’re a baseball fan, odds are that you’ve already seen it and the only thing that really slows the film down is the romance between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo. Aside from that, Bob Uecker (as Harry Doyle) steals the show and I really can’t recommend this film more. The DVD is bare, but if you’re like me, this won’t bother you in the least.

Video: How does it look?

Paramount has presented the film in it’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. A film of the late 80’s and at a moderate budget, the print used looks fairly clean. For some reason, Paramount’s titles all look grainy for the first few minutes, then as it progresses, the image gets cleaner. It might be my player or TV or both or neither; that’s just how they look to me. This is the first time I’ve seen the film in widescreen since it was playing in the theaters and even though there’s just a little more information on the sides, I could tell a difference. The outdoor shots that take place during a game look very good, as the white on their uniforms is a great contrast to the green on the field. I noticed only a tiny bit of edge enhancement and though some artifacts do appear, they’re short-lived. All in all, it’s the best the film has ever looked and that’s essentially all we can ask for.

Audio: How does it sound?

There seems to be a standard at Paramount that most somewhat recent films will get a 16:9 transfer and a re-mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (and usually no supplements). Major League follows suit here in perfect form. The sound isn’t anything great, but it’s strong at certain points during the movie. During some of the games, the crowd’s ambiance is heard through the surrounds and it’s a good thing to hear. It makes the movie that much more enjoyable. The rest of the film is dialogue-driven (foul language and all) and the result is a clean soundtrack. Again, nothing that impressive, but it more than gets the job done.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sigh…no supplements are included. Not even a trailer.

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