Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Baseball Culture: Top 5 Movie Comedies

There have been many baseball comedies made over the years. Unfortunately, too many of them would be better classified as a Tragedy more than a comedy (see Comrades of Summer for more details, although you'd be better off taking my word for it).

However, there are some that actaully pulled off funny, and in each case it was because there was a very apparent "love of the game" involved in the movie. You can tell there was a real passion for baseball behind the people making the movie. Here are the five funniest:

#5 Mr. Baseball - Very underrated baseball movie, with Tom Sellek's character, Jack Elliott, being sent off to Japan, but desperate to get back to the Majors. This movie came out three years before Hideo Nomo came to the Dodgers, so very little was known about Japanese baseball at the time. The differences were made funny, and Jack giving the captain of his team a "hot foot" was fun. He doesn't get along with his manager and is unknowingly dating his daughter Hiroko.

#4 Kill the Umpire - William Bendix (who played Babe Ruth in the Babe Ruth Story), stars as a formber ballplayer who loathed umpires and thought they were the lowest creature on earth. After his playing days are over he tries his hand at a number of jobs but none work out. His family convinces him to go to umpire school, which creates some funny moments as he tries to get kicked out. Harder to find than the other movies, but worth a watch.

#3 Major League - A lot of good lines. a lot of fun personalities. The owner is trying to put together the worst team in the league to drop attendance so low, she can get out of her deal with Cleveland and move the team to Miami. Led by manager Lou Brown, with players such as Willie Mays Hays, Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn", Roger Dorn, Jake Taylor, and Pedro Cerrano, it's a really fun group of charcters. Unfortunately they made two sequals.

#2 The Bad News Bears - Speaking of unfortunately making two sequals, The Bad News Bears takes that one further as they unfortunately did a remake as well. There is only one person who could have effectively played Coach Buttermaker, and that was Walter Matthau. They just had a great combination of unpolished kids without making it seem forced. Of course nobody in movie history plays unpolished like Matthau. It's a little league team. He gives them beer. Enough said.
#1 Bull Durham - You can tell the love for baseball from opening narration as Annie Savoy (played by Susan Surandon) talks about how the only religion that works for her is the "Church of Baseball." Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) comes in as "The Player to Be Named Later" to be Nuke LaLoosh's (Tim Robbins) catcher as Nuke as a "Million Dollar arm but a five cent head." Many great quotes from this movie, including one that I have regularly used with my staff at work "Don't think, it only hurts the team" (in the movie they used "Ballclub" instead of team). Bull Durham is the only baseball movie to crash the American Film Institute's Top 100 Comedies of all time.


Sully said...

Mr. Baseball was, indeed, underrated, especially when you factor in that Dennis "Pedro Cerrano/David Palmer" Haysbert was also on the Dragons with Selleck.

Can't argue with Bull Durham, but I'd put Major League above Bad News Bears.

Ross said...

I debated between Major League and Bad News Bears for a while. I know Major League better, but when I think about the kids being so mean to each other in Bad News Bears, and them not doing it like it's a kids movies, it just makes me smile.