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Paramount Studios presents

Major League (1989)

"Remember fans, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission for anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won the pennant."- Harry Doyle (Bob Eucker)

Stars: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernson
Other Stars: James Gammon, Dennis Haysbert, Margaret Whitton, Chelcie Ross, Renee Russo, Bob Uecker
Director: David Ward

MPAA Rating: R for nudity, language
Run Time: 01h:47m:05s
Release Date: 2002-09-24
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-B+B D-


DVD Review

When the fall season rolls around I find myself filled with energy thanks to the healthy supply of post-season baseball which, for the past several years, has featured my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately, there was a time where things weren't looking as well as they do today for the Redbird faithful, who sat through season after season of near misses and often disastrous attempts at a winning record. However, the Cleveland Indians featured in the hysterically funny Major League are perhaps the most loveable group of losers ever created.

Set in the midst of a slide matched only by the Chicago Cubs (who did make the playoffs the year this film was made), the Cleveland Indians are in dire straights:it has been nearly half a century since the team reached the post season. When their prestigious owner passes away he leaves control to his former showgirl wife (Whitton), who has plans to drain attendance by populating the team with unknown players in the hopes of escaping the contract with Cleveland and relocating the team to Miami. Among the unknowns are: Rick Vaughn (Sheen), an ex-con with a deadly fastball; Pedro Cerano (Haysbert), a voodoo worshiper who has trouble hitting any pitch that is not a fastball; Roger Dorn (Bernson), a playboy, more interested in stocks than strikes, and veteran catcher Jake Taylor (Berenger), who is playing in what may be his last season. In typical sports film fashion, the group shows promise when their backs are against the wall and may have what it takes to make a run at the playoffs.

Major League ranks as one of my own most watched films. I can't quite describe the attraction that I have towards it, as it is not a particularly well made, or even acted, film. The situations are burdened by typical sports movie contrivances as well as a romantic angle that distracts from both the humor and the admittedly thrilling chase towards the pennant. Still, Major League is a film that I can not stop watching. The strength here is the numerous, believable characters, as opposed to the more common angle of showcasing a single superstar and surrounding him with less interesting supporting players. From Vaughn to Taylor, each character has an individual arc, nice considering that over the course of the season, we come to care more and more for these people.

The film has such an energy that the conclusion, which will come as no surprise to followers of baseball movies, is nearly as exciting as the steps taken to arrive there. Director David S. Ward (who also made the dismal Major League 2) does a fine job of directing the baseball sequences; the montage capturing the team's rise to the top of the standings is one of the better in sports films I have seen. Some moments do distract from the overall story beyond the romantic subplot mentioned previously: the differences between the players, particularly Cerano and a veteran pitcher, as well as those of Dorn and Vaughn, take away from the very enjoyable baseball scenes. By dragging the audience into the melancholy subplots, the baseball angle seems less important, a mistake for a film of this sort.

While the direction and overall likeable nature of the film empower it, the cast is easily the largest factor in the enjoyment of Major League. Led by Sheen, Berenger, and Bernson, the cast excels at creating a terrifically believable group of teammates. Look for Wesley Snipes and Rene Russo in early, memorable roles, as well as an amazingly hysterical performance by Bob Eucker as the team's faithful announcer.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: To be honest, the thrill of having Major League in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio at long last is enough to make me give the transfer a positive review, so the fact that the transfer looks great is just icing on the cake. Colors are fine throughout, though the muted tans and earthtones that are present in so many of the sequences look duller than I believe I have ever seen. Sharpness and detail are each fine; for once, I can clearly make out the signs on the scoreboard at the stadium as well as the fine print in the numerous newspaper stills showcasing the teams rise to the top. The image does appear a bit soft from time to time, while I noticed no edge enhancement to speak of. Overall, this is a fine transfer with only a few small problems.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is as standard as they come, with no real use of any but the center channel. The surround speakers show no noticeable action while the .1 LFE track is quiet and uneventful throughout. A Dolby Surround track is also offered, though there is no real difference here.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: A crime has occurred! Major League is presented with no extra features at all and that is truly a shame. Static, themed menus lead the way to seventeen chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D-

Final Comments

I love Major League as much as any other sports film I have ever seen. The enjoyment that comes from viewing this film rivals any other in my collection, making this an easy recommendation. The lack of extra features is a downer, but the film itself is a pleasure.

Kevin Clemons 2002-10-06