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Bull Durham (1988)

Romance is a lot like baseball. Its not whether you win or lose. Its how you play the game.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 103 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


Kevin Costner stars as “Crash” Davis, a veteran catcher in minor-league baseball, who arrives to play out his last competitive days in the sport with the class A Durham Bulls. Crash is tough and resilient, and he loves the game. He also plays rather well – secretly he is approaching the minor league run record, and once spent 21 days in the majors (“The Show”). His assignment at the Bulls includes babysitting the team's other newcomer and star rookie, the erratic and none-too-smart but promising pitcher Ebby Calvin LaLoosh (Tim Robbins). LaLoosh has an over-inflated sense of his own importance and calls himself “Nuke”, but Crash insists on calling him “Meat” and sets about taking him down a peg or two in order to teach him what he needs to know.

The two newcomers also attract the attention of knowledgeable baseball groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), who informs them that every year she takes a different rookie under her wing as well as into her bed. The experienced Crash promptly turns her down, so Nuke takes up with her instead. Annie teaches Nuke a thing or two about both life and baseball, but also clearly regrets not being with Crash – even though that implies more commitment than she would normally make. Crash also starts to wonder if he should reconsider his decision, but in the meantime he has to attempt to make something of his young protégé as well as deciding the direction his life should take when his playing days are over.

This appealing adult romantic comedy was one of the first to ignore the tenet that it's hard to make a successful baseball film. The romantic twists and effective use of the love triangle make it appealing to a much wider market than would normally be reached by a sports film – while the guys can enjoy the outstanding baseball sequences, the ladies are more taken with Kevin Costner's Crash as a flawed romantic hero. Although Tim Robbins' pitching is certainly questionable, Costner is known to be a fine player and his love of the game shows in the film. The baseball set-pieces can be enjoyed by those who don't know the game thanks to Costner's athletic performance in the company of a host of fine supporting baseball players, as well as because of the wonderfully humorous on-field conflicts between Crash and Nuke. This film is about romance, baseball and the interaction between its characters, and it succeeds on all three counts. The only negative is that it has dated somewhat in parts, although the film's other qualities mean that it is still well worth watching.

It's Got: Competent ball-playing from Costner – in every sense.

It Needs: Nuke to really pay his dues before getting called up to "The Show".

DVD Extras Only a trailer with this basic single-disc release. Extras: Theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10


A fine appealing romantic comedy with much to recommend it, although it does seem a little dated in parts.