22 April 2009

DVD: "Major League" - Wild Thing Edition

Major League
Written and Directed by David S. Ward
Starring: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen
DVD Release Date: 10 April 2007
MPAA Rating: R
List Price: $12.99
Cinescopes Personality Types: Respected Champion, Invincible Optimist

The Film
A trophy wife (Margaret Whitton) becomes a widow, and in the process inherits the Cleveland Indians from her husband.  Loathing the city, she discovers a clause in the lease contract that allows her to break the lease--and move to Miami--if the attendance drops to a specific level.  To ensure that it does, she rounds up the worst players she can find.  Remarkably (or predictably, if you prefer), this ragtag assortment of has-beens and never-weres coalesce into a competitive team in defiance of her wishes.

Writer/director Ward is joined on a commentary track by producer Chris Chesser, in which they mostly praise the city of Milwaukee (where the lion's share of the film was actually shot) and the cast.  There is a brief featurette on the film and its characters and another in which Indians players and commentators discuss their affinity for the film.  The highlight is a third featurette spotlighting Bob Uecker (who portrays alcoholic broadcaster Harry Doyle in the film).  An excised scene from the end of the film is the lone deleted scene presented (though some of Uecker's outtakes appear in the featurette on his performance).  Rounding out the features are a quick look through the voodoo-filled locker of Cerrano, guided by actor Dennis Haysbert in character and a photo gallery.

The Recommendation
If you've ever wondered about how something could not be greater than the sum of its parts, Major League is the answer.  Scene-by-scene, the film is enjoyable and yet when it's over there is a sense that several plot lines were neglected.  Much is made in the second act of the film, for instance, of Jake Thompson's (Berenger) quest to reunite with his lost love (Rene Russo); there is nothing else about her until the final scene of the film.  In fairness, though, Major League did break from some sports movie cliches.  It also birthed at least one that has carried over into real baseball--that of the closer taking the field set to a crowd-rousing song.

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