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Bull Durham

Updated: Sep 9, 2023


One of the most enjoyable sports films of all time, 1988's BULL DURHAM's mix of comedy, sports and romance is a grand slam.

Kevin Costner is at his big screen best as minor league veteran Crash Davis. An old man on the circuit, he's seen it all. He's got his hands full with rookie pitcher Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) who's got A-bomb power but zero control, putting the mascot in as much danger as Crash's glove.

A young Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River) is hilarious as Nuke, all arms and legs over the mound.

While Crash tries to mentor him to a better performance, local team groupie Annie Savoy (the perfectly cast Susan Sarandon) has made her annual selection of the two player candidates to become her partner in bed for the season, Nuke & Crash. Sarandon (Thelma and Louise, Dead Man Walking) glows in the role, tying Nuke to the bed and reading him poetry all night.

Costner and Sarandon have real chemistry. Crash's speech to Annie on why he wont compete with a boy for her attention is superb dialogue, perfectly landed by Costner. "Well, I believe in the soul, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days".

Writer/Director Ron Shelton (Tin Cup) delivers a knowing sports film of the highest order, knocking down big laugh after big laugh. A former minor league ball player himself, Shelton brings life on the road to the big screen down to the smallest detail. The scenes on the bus between games are a hoot. Sharing some DNA with "Slap Shot", these are road games you'll want to watch.

Shelton also makes a great choice in allowing us to hear Nuke's internal dialogue as a voice-over.

With Shelton's background, I expected the baseball scenes to be accurate, but he shows the same deft, realistic hand with the romantic entanglements of Nuke, Annie and Crash.

You've got one youngster that hasn't experienced anything, a veteran who's seen it all and a woman who seems to be in love with them both for very different reasons.

I miss films like this from the 80's. It was a different time. The comedy was less correct, the language and sex was unflinching and everything served the story.

There's major talent behind this tale of the minors and I loved every minute of it.

BULL DURHAM gets an A.



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