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Bull Durham

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 11/06/98 19:55:23

"Costner's finest hour. Robbins' lowest. Baseball is the winner."
3 stars (Average)

I know what the makers of this film were trying to achieve. Sadly, I don't think the makers themsleves did.

Kevin Costner is an over the hill minor league journeyman baseballer. Susan Sarandon is a down home gal who chooses a player from the local team each year to become her lover, protege and spiritual bunny rabbit. Tim Robbins is the up'n'coming young pitching star with no control, no accuracy, no brain but a rocket up his sleeve.

When Costner is allocated to showing the rookie the ropes, and Sarandon takes it on herself to do likewise in the bedroom, the jealous philospher in Costner get's irked at how his role in basbeall has changed from potential star to helper monkey.

So where's the problem? Well, for one, Bull Durham doesn't have a point. It doesn't know if it's a comedy, a sports flick, a love story, a spiritual tale. It doesn't know if we're supposed to love the characters, relate to the characters, hate the characters, root for the characters.

Robbins, a great serious actor, was stuck in his Cadillac Man phase when this film was made, and his 'rookie' role is seriously over-dumbed. It becomes almost farcical. In fact he really is playing the *exact* same character as he did in Cadillac Man, and that film didn't do much to make itself respectable.

Costner, showing the glimpse of talent you used to be able to see in him, didn't suck a whole lot. In fact, I rate him in this role. He was underplayed enough to make the jokes funny, the lovin' lovin' and the corny stretches of bar-room philosophy almost believable.

And Sarandon. Okay, she has presence, but she honestly doesn't seem to know what her character has on her mind. She goes from coquette to slut to woman of the mind to sensual girlfriend to deeply in love and that's just in the first half an act.

The best part of this movie is the baseball. Unless Corbin Bernsen is on the poster, you really can't go wrong with a baseball flick. From the old Ronald Reagan ballgame flicks of the 40's to the cornball pseudo-slapstick of The Rookie, if it includes "the show" it's a damn fine show.

Bull Durham's look at the minors and the guys who slog it out year after year hoping for their chance in the big time is great stuff. I really started enjoying the movie while that was the focus.

But as soon as Susan started busting out the "raiki" and "tantric sex" and Kevin started riffing on how he believes in the cock, the pussy, the sweet spot, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, softcore porn, good scotch, the small of a woman's back and constitutional amendments outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter.... well it all made Tim Robbins "nyuk nyuk" style look like a Disney character.

Durham is a decent enough way to pass away a few hours on a weekend, especially if you love the game, but it ain't gonna change your life. Or even your "blood in penis" level.

I'd do Sarandon. I would. Just not for a season. Not a *whole* season.

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