“Bull Durham” is not only the greatest baseball movie of all time, but might also be one of the greatest sports movies of all time. Despite my love for sports and movies, sports movies are often tedious to watch because they’re so predictable and formulaic. If you’ve seen one comeback story about the underdog like “Rocky,” then you’ve watched 95% of sports movies. But then you get a film like “Bull Durham,” which looks at baseball like it was a religion, a way of life, a fun life that can be as quick as a fast ball or as leisurely as a nine-inning game on a warm summer day. And not just in the way to watch baseball but how it encourages patience, focus and intensity into our everyday lives, but especially into the way we make love. It honestly believe that baseball has all the answers to life as Susan Sarandon molds young baseball players not just into fine men but fine lovers. It plays with its sport better than any other sports movie, creating this shrine to baseball as a mental state and why people love the game so much.
Writer and director Ron Shelton once described “Bull Durham” more as a western than a sports movie, and I can see why he would think that through Kevin Costner’s character. Costner plays an aging veteran baseball player who reluctantly comes to town to coach a rising star (Tim Robbins), who has a chance to make it to the majors if he can learn to stop being such a hothead. Robbins and Sarandon find Costner mysterious, full of wisdom and a love for the game but little love for himself. He’s rough and rash but wants nothing more than to make the game he loves so much a little bit better, even if that means he gets shafted for the majors. Just replace the wide-open plains of the old west with a baseball diamond and bullets with an equally fast baseball and you’ve got yourself the most unique and hilarious sports film you’ll ever see.
Final Grade: A