Starring: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Director: Ron Shelton
A baseball fan Annie (Sarandon) has an affair with one player of the Bulls each season and the player always goes on to have a successful career. But this season, while Annie chooses young player “Nuke” (Robbins), she finds herself at odds with experienced player Crash (Costner) who has been assigned to keep the young player on the straight and narrow. Crash and Annie can’t seem to agree on anything, but they happen to just be perfect for each other.
I ended up liking this film more than I expected to. It’s really unusual. Nuke would not make it to the major leagues without Annie. She teaches him to be a more down to earth and thoughtful human being. By learning how to be sensual in the bedroom, he learns how to be a better player. Annie is smart and funny. She reads poetry, she knows all the players stats, and she’s respected by the team. It’s not at all how you’d expect a groupie to be portrayed in a film. I really liked her as a character. And I loved that while she sort of mentors players into the big leagues, she actually meets her match in Crash, a man who is also smart and a lot like her.
Though Crash is her romantic lead, Annie spends a lot of her time in bed with Nuke, in some really steamy sex scenes. Normally in a romantic comedy you wouldn’t see the girl having loads of great sex with the wrong guy. (This is the film where Sarandon and Robbins met and ended up together for years)
All of that said, the real star of the film is baseball. Director and writer of this film Ron Shelton was a minor league baseball player, and he takes that knowledge to make a wonderful film about the sport. Here, baseball is often a metaphor for life, with the skills you need to live well being taught on and off the pitch. The film feels a little tinted with a golden tone and sometimes I had to remind myself that it was set in the 80’s, not in the past. It has a real timeless feel that I liked.
You can watch this as a love letter to baseball, but if you’re not a baseball fan, there’s still something really great about this film. It’s also about love and about life, with plenty of references to philosophy and poetry, and a sense of fun and humour too.
See It If: I really enjoyed this film. It’s unusual, funny, sweet, smart and just the right amount emotional too.
1 thought on “Classic Movie Of The Week: Bull Durham (1988)”
This is my favorite baseball movie, and is so different from the sappy movie version of “The Natural” that was nothing like the book. The relationship between Crash and Annie is very natural and the tension plays out in a very real adult fashion, not at all typical Hollywood, at least in my opinion. Both are invested in Nuke’s development as a person and player and Crash doesn’t seem threatened or intimidated by the sexual antics between Nuke and Annie, probably because he understands her motivation and defense mechanisms, since, as you noted, they are so similar to his own.