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Bull Durham (Blu-ray Review)

20 Aug, 2010 By: John Latchem

$24.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo pack
Rated ‘R’
Stars Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins.

With a wonderful screenplay, charismatic performances and meditative reflections on America’s pastime, Bull Durham might be the best baseball film ever made (though Major League remains my favorite to watch).

Adding the film to your collection is a no-brainer. The 1988 modern classic from writer-director Ron Shelton, based on his own experiences playing pro ball, takes us away from the corporate excesses of the big leagues and into the trenches of the Minor Leagues, where the church of baseball can test the faith of its most ardent worshippers. This isn’t the usual sports movie that builds up to the big game. In this case, baseball is the love story.

Shelton’s script parallels the vagaries of life with the quirks of the game, filtered through a love story involving a trio of future Oscar winners. Susan Sarandon plays the townie who sleeps with a new ballplayer each season, caught between Tim Robbins as the rookie blue chipper on a fast track to the Majors and Kevin Costner as the veteran catcher charged with refining his talent.

What might raise an eyebrow about Bull Durham and other recent MGM Blu-rays such as Escape From New York is the packaging configuration. The two-disc set includes one Blu-ray that is essentially only the movie (plus a few trailers). The other disc is the special-edition DVD released in 2008, which contains the movie, several pretty good retrospective featurettes, an entertaining commentary with Costner and Robbins, and an informative commentary with Shelton.

This might seem annoying to fans who already have the DVD, but it’s pretty smart for a cash-strapped operation such as MGM looking to clear out excess inventory while saving money by not upgrading the existing extras to HD.

Bull Durham turned out to be the first of Costner’s so-called baseball trilogy, followed in 1989 by the equally classic Field of Dreams and in 1999 by the underwhelming For Love of the Game.

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