Review by Gordon Justesen
Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Margaret Whitton, James Gammon, Rene
Russo, Bob Uecker
Director: David S. Ward
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: May 12, 2009
“Post-game show is brought to you by…Christ, I can’t find it. The hell with it!”
In the realm of sports comedies, Major League has long been a favorite of mine. True, the movie may follow a familiar and predictable formula, which consists of a ragtag group of underdogs who strive to win in the midst of losing, and all is achieved in the end. However, the laughs in the movie are countless and funny, and are more than enough for two movies-worth of chuckles.
It’s no Bull Durham, a better baseball comedy that had a mature sense to it, but Major League isn’t intended to be mature, in fact, it loves being immature in its hijinks, and that’s one of the pleasures of it. The movie has no less than Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen for its lead stars. Gosh, the last time we saw these two actors on the screen (Platoon) they were at each other’s throats. So it is kind of nice to see the two back in a much gentler and lighter tone.
The movie depicts a hugely bad time for the Cleveland Indians, who are predicted to finish the season dead last. The owner of the franchise has passed away, leaving the team in the hands of the ruthless Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) who presents her own list of requested players who are way past their prime, or never had one in the first place. She plans to assemble a team of players that guarantee a season in dead last position so that she can relocate the team franchise to Miami.
The players include Jake Taylor (Berenger), a has been catcher, Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), a felon who happens to have a pretty good throwing arm, Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) a snotty businessman and outfielder who can’t stand the idea of risking his sight when diving into the ground, Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), who plays like Mays and runs like Hayes, and Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), who conducts various acts of voodoo before hitting the field as a sign of good luck. Selected to manage the team is Lou Brown (James Gammon), a tire salesman whose response when asked if he liked this higher paying gig is “Umm…I don’t know.”
Training is a pain in the butt for the new recruits, but once the season kicks into high gear, the Indians prove the new owner that they aren’t as outstandingly bad as they were thought to be. The city of Cleveland, who hasn’t displayed much interest in the sour team over the last several years, finally garners interest in their team once they begin a solid streak, thus leading up to your basic climatic “big game” finale.
As mentioned before, the plot is formulaic, but the laughs are plentiful and come hurling faster than your fastest speedball. The whole cast, especially Berenger, Sheen, and a young looking Wesley Snipes in one of his first big roles, shine in their comic roles. Another standout is Bob Uecker, an actual former baseball pro, in the role of the Indians broadcast announcer Harry Doyle, who has most of the movie’s funniest lines.
Major League will not enhance your brain waves by any means, but as a simple-minded comedy, it hits a grand slam out of the park.
After two DVD releases, both of which had so-so transfers, Paramount has finally delivered what is easily the finest looking presentation of this movie to date. The Blu-ray release does quite a lot for a simple comedy. The game sequences shine the best, as the green of the field has never looked greener. Colors look phenomenal, and the 1080p provides some great image detail that was nowhere to be found on the standard DVD versions.
Also a nice upgrade from the DVD release. The Dolby TrueHD mix adds more juice to this dialogue-oriented comedy. The ball game sequences also show off quite well in this regard, as crowd noise and dialogue from game announcer Uecker sound more dynamic than ever, as does the music in the movie.
All the extras have been swung over from the Wild Thing Edition DVD release. They include a commentary with writer/director David S. Ward and producer Chris Chessner, some intriguing featurettes including “My Kinda Team”, which covers the making of the film, “A Major League Look at Major League”, which offers the actual Cleveland Indians baseball team’s perspective on the movie, “Bob Uecker: Just a Bit Outside” takes a look at the sportsman/comedian’s career. Also featured is A Tour of Cerrano’s Locker, an Alternate Ending with optional commentary, and a Photo Gallery.
With baseball season having just begun, and Blu-ray being the great format that it is, there hasn’t been a better time to check out Major League in its best looking presentation to date. It remains the mother of all baseball comedies, and in HD, it’s now a certified home run!