Crash Davis loves baseball more than it loves him. He believes in the game. He deserves to be in the show, but he isn't and never will be. But still he plays on, dutifully and to a certain extent, joyfully. Better to play crappy A-ball than sell shoes.
That for me is the central theme of this film. It is all summed up when Crash tells Nuke, the wild young star pitcher "You don't respect yourself. That's your problem. You don't respect the game. That's my problem."
Take a player that passionate, and a youngster that annoying, add in a sexy yet maternal fan and you have great comedy. Bull Durham works scene after scene, because the film never forgets that baseball is what binds all the characters together.
Tim Robbins is nothing short of brilliant and Nuke Laloosh, the rising star youngster who walks 18 batters and strikes out 18 batters in his first minor league appearance - both league records. But Nuke is caught up in his fat contract, his Porsche, and his endless parade of women. Baseball is a sideline. Eventually, Crash's mentoring begins to pay off until he finally realizes that winning is "like, you know, better than losing!"
The love triangle between Annie (Susan Sarandon), Crash and Nuke is wonderful and funny, but it mainly provides us with set up for the baseball scenes, like when Sarandon convinces Nuke to wear women's underwear while he pitches. Or my favourite scene, when Annie and Crash take batting practise together, Annie dressed like she is ready for a wedding, but determined to correct Crash's swing. Crash is determined to take Annie home. They flirt and practice batting in one of the best prolonged foreplay scenes ever filmed.
The ending is satisfying but the real depth of this film is harmony that the game brings to the characters. **** out of ****.