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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Fans, Rookies & Old Hands

Bull Durham (1988) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A voice-over of one Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) tells us she idolizes base­ball (“I believe in the Church of Base­ball.”) WRDU radio announcer Teddy Garland (Carey “Garland” Bunting), “the Voice of the Bulls,” announces the debut of rookie pitcher Ebby Calvin LaLoosh (Tim Robbins.) He has a great arm but problems with control. The coach Skip (Trey Wilson) tells their newly acquired catcher “Crash” Davis (Kevin Costner), “We want you to mature this guy.”

Annie takes him under her wing the way the female lead in “Sweet November” was wont to do with a series of men one month at a time (“I hook up with one guy a season.”} She nick­names him “Nuke” and coddles him. “Crash” nick­names him “Meat” and gets on his case. Skip just yells.

During a Carolina League twelve week road trip, Nuke finds his groove (“I have my mojo working.”) “Crash” convinces him it's because he is “rechan­neling my sexual energy.” Returning to Durham he dare not curtail a winning formula. The game goes on.


Bible Jim

Idolatrous Annie says, “I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us.” One player practices voodoo on his bat and will anoint other players on request. Annie gave “Nuke” a garter to wear as a talisman. The place was rife with super­stition. Amidst all the idolatry we find a player Jimmy (William O'Leary) holding his Bible aloft and announcing to the team, he's holding a “daily chapel service here in the locker room at three in the after­noon.” What, we may ask, is a Bible-believing Christian doing in the midst of all that idolatry?

In 1st Corinthians, Paul tells us (1Cor. 5:9-10) that we may associate with character-flawed nonChristians; that a Christian may maintain a marriage to a nonchristian (1Cor. 7:12-17) so long as the unbeliever is willing; that we can compromise with the heathen in the work­place—Criswell Study Bible preface to First Corinthians: “Some Christians needed to know whether or not they should attend the meetings of their trade guild, meetings held in the idol temples and involving meat offered to the idols (1Cor. 8:1-13)”—as long as we're doing it in faith and not stumbling some­one; that we can compromise in the market­place (1Cor. 10:25-26) and in entertainment (1Cor. 10:27-28) for the same reason, and as long as we don't ask too many questions.

In 2nd Corinthians Paul does ask the Corinthians the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines, “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have ready examples at hand due to their allowed associations. It's these mismatches that impress on their minds the incom­pati­bility of mixed composition, so that, say, we should not establish a “Voodoo Church of Christ.” The two are not going to mix well. Paul thus concludes telling Christians: (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” Note the plural pronoun ye. Webster defines, “1ye pron you 1 — used orig. only as a plural pronoun of the second person in the subjective case and now used esp. in ecclesiastical or literary language and in various English dialects.” We are forbidden to integrate heathen practices into our church in the aggregate, though as individual believers we are allowed to rub shoulders with unbelievers in various places so long as we remain aloof from their idolatry or whatever.

Annie, the baseball believer on the outs with the Lord, quotes William Blake: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” That's incompatible with a Christian's temperance being a fruit of the Spirit as listed in Gal. 5:22-23. Webster defines “temperance 1: moderation in action, thought, or feeling: restraint.” Annie was into sexual excess. Let's compare her excess with a Christian's biblical moderation, using the frame­work of (Col. 2:21) “Touch not; taste not; handle not.”

The “touch” phase is appropriate to what “Crash” calls the “tryout,” i.e. preliminary selection. In this movie it's demonstrated by touch dancing in Mitch's Bar where Ebby was dancing with all the girls. The “taste” phase is the next one in sequence, what Annie was leading up to when she said, “All I want is a date.” That's kissing. As “Crash” puts it, “I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses.” The third phase, “handle,” is appropriate to marriage, in this movie represented by a plastic model of a naked couple in a hands-on embrace on top of Jimmy and Millie (Jenny Robertson)'s wedding cake. Such moderation avoids excess.

In the baseball game, Ebby needs to mature by receiving instruction, but instruction in moderation. The coach gets to YELL at him. His mentor “Crash” gets on his case a lot (“When Nuke started listenin' to Crash, every­thing fell into place”). And Annie starts giving him tips in moderation, (“Well if there was one chick who would know you were pulling your hips out early it'd be Annie.”) That Annie goes over­board and Ebby allows it is seen as a character flaw in the latter. Annie is a part time teacher of Eng. 101 & Beginning Composition at a community college. Her instruction of a player includes, “I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. 'Course, a guy'll listen to any­thing if he thinks it's foreplay.” When she ties Ebby to the bed­posts and reads to him all night, he is too tired the next morning to play well. Annie has exceeded her womanly mandate, her superior education being no excuse. Ebby for his part has taken openness to instruction to an unhealthy extreme, as stated in (Eccl. 7:16) “Be not righteous over much; neither make thy­self over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” He also makes him­self over wise by ignoring the catcher's signals and pitching what he him­self thinks best (“lesson number one: don't think; it can only hurt the ball club.”)

Production Values

This baseball flick, “” (1988) was written and directed by Ron Shelton. It stars Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Kevin Costner seemed made for the role. All three leads had fine performances if moderate chemistry. They really milked the material. The supporting cast was stuck in the back­ground. There were some zany antics from real-life “Clown Prince of Baseball” Max Patkin.

“Bull Durham” was rated R. It had a feisty rock 'n' roll sound­track. There was lots of drama, the base­ball ambiance seemed genuine, and it moved slow as is characteristic of the game.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The R rating was probably due to its preoccupation with sex, although the only skin shown is of the back. I found it interesting and have no major objections. It is what it is.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.