tek's rating:

Bull Durham (R)
AFI Catalog; Criterion; IMDb; MGM; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Max; Vudu; YouTube

This came out in 1988, but I didn't see it until 2019. It's considered one of (if not the) greatest sports movies ever made. I guess I'm not the target audience. I mean... I've never had much interest in sports, so sports movies aren't generally one of my favorite genres of film. But I am capable of enjoying sports movies if I really care about the story and/or characters, or just find the movies really funny or dramatic or whatever. But this one... I just couldn't manage to care about very much. I thought it was alright, but I definitely don't have any desire to ever watch it again.

Anyway... it's about a minor league baseball team called the Durham Bulls. It's a real team, but I had never heard of them (if I know little about major league baseball, I know nothing about the minor leagues). So I've always assumed the movie was about a character called "Bull Durham," but it's not. (Wikipedia informs me that's actually the nickname of the city of Durham, North Carolina, which is where the team is from.) At the start of the movie, the team has just gotten a new pitcher named Ebby Calvin LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), who has an incredible throwing arm as far as speed is concerned, but he's no good at actually aiming his pitches. So the team calls in a veteran catcher named "Crash" Davis (Kevin Costner; Crash's real first name is never mentioned in the film). Crash is supposed to teach Ebby to be a better pitcher, or whatever. The film is narrated by another character, Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), who in every baseball season chooses one player to become her lover. She also tries to "expand his mind" with things like poetry, and whatnot. And she considers baseball her "religion." At the start of this season, she's initially unsure whether to choose Crash or Ebby, but Crash quickly decides he's not interested, so Ebby becomes her lover, by default. Which is just as well, since she wants someone to mold into a better ball player and better person, and Ebby clearly is in far greater need of molding than Crash. Also I should mention that Ebby wanted to get himself a nickname, and Annie gives him one: "Nuke." (However, Crash mostly calls him "Meat.")

Well, it's kind of inevitable that eventually Crash and Annie will develop genuine feelings for each other, which I guess turns the movie into a sort of love triangle. And I guess the two of them are both sort of interesting characters. So I wasn't completely disinterested in the love story aspect of the movie. And it wasn't bad seeing Ebby slowly become a more disciplined player. I can certainly understand how serious fans of baseball would find this to be a much more enjoyable movie than I did. I will say I wish more of an effort had been made to let us get to know other players on the team more than we did. There was one player who was a devout Christian, who has a very minor subplot... which ultimately coincides in an ironic way with a Bulls groupie named Millie, and I wish we could have seen more of that relationship. And... I really don't know what else to say. I just feel kind of sorry about not liking the movie more than I did.

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