Major League: Wild Thing Edition – DVD Review

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David S. Ward


Tom Berenger ..Jake Taylor
Charlie Sheen ..Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn
Corbin Bernsen ..Roger Dorn
Margaret Whitton ..Rachel Phelps
James Gammon ..Lou Brown
Rene Russo ..Lynn Wells
Bob Eucker .Harry Doyle
Wesley Snipes ..Willie Mays Hayes
Charles Cyphers ..Charlie Donovan
Chelcie Ross ..Eddie Harris
Dennis Haysbert ..Pedro Cerrano
Andy Romano ..Pepper Leach

The Movie

Baseball movies aspire to be one of two movies: Field of Dreams or Major League. While the former is the embodiment of the mythos of the game, the latter tends to be the embodiment appeals more to the fun aspect of the game. Ultimately every baseball film falls into the either being serious or screwball in nature; that’s the only way a good baseball film seems to be made. For every film like The Natural or Bull Durham that’s made, an astonishing number of films about baseball are made and are barely watchable. Much like the decline of the popularity of the game, films about baseball have declined equally as much in the last two decades. The last shot at a great baseball was For Love of the Game, yet another Costner helmed baseball film, and yet it fell short for many of the same reasons films like Field of Dreams and Major League succeed. The game isn’t prided on manufacturing clichéd emotion for all to see, it’s about a passion for the game that transcends all.

And that’s what Major League is about. Following a season in the life of a ragtag Cleveland Indians team brought together to lose, and lose convincingly, so that a former Vegas showgirl turned owner (Margaret Whitton) can move the team to Miami. Featuring a pitcher (Charlie Sheen) who last displayed his wares in the California Penal League, a catcher (Tom Berenger) who last played in Mexico, a Cuban (Dennis Haysbert) who can hit anything out of the ballpark except a curveball, a fast as lightning outfielder (Wesley Snipes) who can’t hit and an infielder (Corbin Bernsen) concerned with the stock market more than the team itself, the Indians go from worst to first in a year filled with as much slapstick, screwball humor as a sports film can have.

It’s what makes the film such a classic nearly 20 years after its release in 1989. The film is the embodiment of the screwball comedy from its premise down to its characters; David Ward may have crafted one of the best comedic screenplays of the last 50 years with this farce about America’s sport. The film is perfect in terms of how it uses its comedy; it’s just comedic enough to keep the laughs rolling on a regular basis without losing sight of the dramatic aspects the film’s story. It doesn’t get bogged down by trying to get a chuckle out of the audience that it detracts from the story.

Another aspect that always gets overlooked is how true to life the film’s sports scenes are. Considering Sheen was a top-notch high school pitcher, and that other members of the cast had varying degrees of success in the game, it wasn’t a worry of the filmmakers that the scenes wouldn’t be credible and it shows. The baseball looks realistic enough not to be confused with a bunch of actors playing the game; the baseball looks real, which gives the film an authenticity few others can match.

Major League may not have the emotional resonance that Field of Dreams does, but it doesn’t have to. This isn’t a movie that looks at the game in terms of myth and legend; it looks at it as the source of fun and amusement that has kept it as America’s pastime.

The Audio

Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 format, the film has had a small upgrade from its first DVD release to now in terms of quality. The first release was quite good, and this is a slight enhancement. The roar of the crowd, the swing of the bar, and the signature sounds of the game come through clearly and well-separated.

The Video

Presented in a widescreen format, the film has had another slight upgrade in the video as well. Not that there was a horrible transfer to begin with, but certain small things that were barely noticeable in the first release in terms of picture quality and color separation have been cleaned up for this release.

The Extras

My Kinda Team is a retrospective look on the characters of the film from the cast. Mixing interviews from the present and back when the film was initially released, it’s an interesting look back at the film as you get a perspective from the film’s release as well as 18 years after the fact. Berenger and Sheen discuss how it was their first project together after Platoon, and both note it was a unique situation to go from filming a war movie in the jungle to filming a baseball movie in Milwaukee. There are lots of other unique facts and observations from everyone involved as well.

A Major League look at Major League is a look at the film by several Major League Baseball professionals, as well as several minor league players as well. It’s fascinating to hear professionals talk about actors emulating their game on the screen, as they point out what they liked in the film in the pure baseball sense.

Bob Eucker: Just A Bit Outside is a look back at Eucker, the memorable Indians announcer in the film and the real-life announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers. Looking at his signature line in the film, as well as some of his scene-stealing moments, it’s a combination retrospective on the character as well as a little bit on his real life career as a mediocre player turned Hall of Fame broadcaster.

Alternate Ending comes complete with an introduction by Ward as to why they didn’t go with it in the first place. It’s an interesting and definitely would’ve been interesting to see in the film, but it’s easy to understand his decision to go in the direction it went.

The film also contains A Tour of Cerrano’s locker and a Commentary by Ward and producer Chris Chesser as well as a Photo Gallery

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Major League: Wild Thing Edition
(OUT OF 10)