From the Chicago Reader (July 1, 1988). Criterion released an elaborately bonus-filled Blu-Ray of this comedy last month. — J.R.
*** (A must-see)
Directed and written by Ron Shelton
With Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl, and Jenny Robertson.
I cannot tell a lie: Bull Durham gave me so much old-fashioned moviegoing pleasure the first time around, in spite of my complete lack of interest in baseball, that I wasn’t too concerned about the sources of my fun. Entertaining movies are often deft at discouraging reflection. But two weeks later, when I went back to see this one again — mainly to refresh my memory — I came out feeling a little embarrassed about how and why I’d been taken in.
It’s not that the movie doesn’t have its share of singular virtues, especially considering that it’s Ron Shelton’s first feature as a director (he also wrote the script). Genuine star performances — as opposed to those in hyped-up vehicles like Big, Red Heat, The Presidio, and Big Business – are not all that commonplace these days, and Shelton gets them here from both Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. He also strikes a very satisfying balance between the fast and furious dialogue — much of it slangy, staccato jargon that reflects Shelton’s ball-playing background — and the transitional montage sequences, overlaid with pop songs, that allow us to glide and drift between the gabfests.… Read more »