- Rated R
- Buy the BD
Reviewed by Jamey Codding
oday’s real-life Cleveland Indians may not bear much resemblance to the bumbling baseball team in this classic, but in 1989 you couldn’t really tell the difference between the fictional team portrayed in director David Ward’s “Major League” and the actual team that regularly lost 90-plus games every summer in decrepit Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Loved for its inspirational storyline and roster full of misfit players, “Major League” is one of Hollywood’s best underdog stories.
Determined to move the Indians to Florida after inheriting the team from her dead husband, owner Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) brings in the sorriest group of players and coaches she can dig up, figuring a poor team equals poor attendance and a justifiable reason to relocate. There’s washed-up catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), whose body has taken quite a beating after so many years behind the plate, third baseman Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), who cares more about his portfolio than his team’s won-loss record, rookie flamethrower Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), fresh from the California Penal League, fleet-footed Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), who could lead the league in steals if he could just get on base, and slugger Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), who has all sorts of problems with curveballs but “straightball I hit very much.” Leading the team onto the field everyday is manager Lou Brown (James Gammon), a former tire salesman who delivers some of the film’s best lines.
Inevitably, Whitton underestimates her crew of underachievers and, once they catch wind of her plan, the underachievers start overachieving and filling the stadium on a nightly basis with rejuvenated Tribe fans. Intent on having her way, Whitton replaces the team plane with a dilapidated bus and cuts off the hot water to the locker room, but the Indians just keep on winning and find themselves tied with the Yankees atop the division by season’s end.
Admittedly, “Major League” isn’t the best movie you’re ever going to see, and sure it’s formulaic and predictable, but there’s something at its core that makes it better than it really should be. Granted, most non-baseball fans probably wouldn’t give it five minutes, but “Major League” wasn’t intended for non-baseball fans. It was intended for people who love the game, people who’ll eat up Bob Uecker’s priceless play-by-play calls and truly appreciate the line, “You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?” Mission accomplished.
Wild Thing Edition Blu-Ray Review:
You’d think that Paramount would put together something special for the 20 year anniversary of “Major League,” but the film’s Blu-ray debut is little more than a carbon copy of the 2007 DVD release. The audio commentary by writer/director David S. Ward and producer Chris Chesser is still a great listen, and the 23-minute retrospective, “My Kinda Team,” is a fun look back at the making of the film, but the rest of the extras are pretty lame. “A Major League Look at Major League” features interviews with Indians players that aren’t even with the team anymore, while the included alternate ending is of the jump the shark variety. If the movie still isn’t part of your collection, there’s probably a good reason why, but even diehard fans might want to stay away from this Blu-ray edition, because the HD upgrade simply isn’t good enough to warrant a double dip.