Writer/director Ron Shelton says, in his commentary, that one of the things that pushed him to make Bull Durham was the sense that nobody did sports movies right. Mission accomplished: here is a film about baseball that can be enthusiastically embraced by those of us who have no interest in, or knowledge of, baseball.
Devout member of the Church of Baseball, Susan Sarandon selects a player each year to coach in the arts of love and of the game. This year, her two candida…es are the over-the-hill but sharp-as-a-whip Kevin Costner, and the talented but dumb-as-a-sack-of-hammers Tim Robbins. Robbins has the potential to be a star pitcher, but is hopeless undisciplined. Costner and Sarandon are tasked to get him to focus. As they work on him, we wait for the two of them to get together. A smart, often acerbic romantic comedy, well worth a second look.
Considerable care appears to have been lavished on the soundtrack. Both music and sound effects come through strongly in full surround. The crowd scenes, in particular, shine in the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Once in a while, elevated voices distort, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
The picture is presented in both anamorphic 1.85:1 and full screen formats. The print is in top-shape, the picture is clear, and there are no visible transfer errors. The colors could be a bit stronger, however, especially the flesh tones. The whole cast looks a bit pale, like they’ve been struggling with the flu.
Two separate commentary tracks here, very different in tone and effect. Ron Shelton’s is the serious track. Revealing what a personal project this film was for him, Shelton discusses its conception, its production, its casting, its themes, and his views on film, baseball, and so on. He is articulate, informed, interesting. The second track is Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins having a fine old giggle together. They’re clearly having a good time reminiscing, and have a lot to say, but a fair bit of that is teasing each other. The other main extra is a 30-minute documentary – “Between the Lines: The Making of Bull Durham” – which is quite informative, though necessarily going over some of the same ground as the commentaries. The other two “documentaries” are promo featurettes – sheer fluff. The other extras are the trailer, the teaser and a photo gallery divided into “Director and Cast,” “Supporting Cast,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Posing for the Poster.” The menu’s main page is a nice, fully animated and scored introduction to the spirit of the film. The transitions are also animated, but everything else is no-frills.
A smart romantic comedy, the sort of thing that Hollywood no longer seems to know how to do, is here bolstered by an equally sharp commentary by Ron Shelton. This DVD is definitely recommended.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Actor’s Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer
- “Between the Lines: Making of Bull Durham”
- “Sports Wrap” featurette
- Photo Gallery
- Kevin Costner Profile