Major League (1989)
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It was very fitting, since the Cleveland Indians at the time were the laughingsock of the Major Leagues and for years, they were stuck in the realms of mediocrity or in last place year after year.
The cast was great; Led by Tom Berringer, and Margaret Whitton. She played the perfect villain in this movie. You just wanted to hate her. Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bersen, along with 3 unknown actors at the time, Wesley Snipes, Dennis Haysbert and Rene Russo. Snipes was hilarious as Willie "Mays" Hayes as well as Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano, the power hitter who practices voodoo. The cast was well rounded off with Checie Ross as Eddie Harris, the aging religious pitcher, James Gammon, Charles Cypers and Bob Uecker as "Harry Doyle".
There were many great one liners and hilarious scenes. The American Express commercial was classic and here's a couple of my favorite scenes:
-Jake Taylor, Willie "Mays" Hayes and Ricky Vaughn are in a bar after a game and discussing the long ball Vaughn gave up:
Taylor: "It wasn't that bad" Vaughn: "Oh yeah? Name one park that ball couldn't have left" Taylor: "Yellowstone" (All 3 laughing)
That scene was in the theater version and I've seen it in the trailers for the movie, but it was deleted in the video version. I'd like to know why, because that was one of my favorite scenes.
-"Oh now you come around; But he isn't fooled"- Eddie Harris on seeing Pedro Cerrano crossing himself.
Here's a few bits of trivia on the movie:
-Funny thing was seeing Pete Vukovich as Klu Haywood, a first baseman. Mainly because he was a pitcher in the Major Leagues.
-Catcher Jake Taylor wore #7. This was the uniform number of longtime Los Angeles Dodger catcher Steve Yeager, who was the technical advisor to this movie and played 3rd Base Coach, "Duke Temple" (Fitting that Taylor wore his number?).
-The movie was filmed in Milwaukee and 3 people affiliated with the Brewers were featured: Pete Vukovich, Bob Uecker (Brewers play-by -play man) and pitcher Jerry Augustine (Duke Simms).
-Was it a coincedence that Miller and Lite Beer was used, since Bob Uecker at the time was spokesman for the Miller Brewing Company?
This movie is one of the best sports movies around. Getting the dvd is worth it.
So this movie, which many of my friends watched as well, was my first contact with this interesting sport. Of course, it is a fairy tale. Of course, the underdog won't get that big that it will beat everybody and win the championship. Or will it?
Sports history tells us different. The story is the same in every sport. Just two years ago, a team just promoted from second division won the German soccer championship!
This movie depicts the glorious story of a bunch of outsiders and underachievers who finally win some games. And it is told in such a wonderful manner that you can't but root for them on their way out of the slumps. Yes! It is a simple story! But the characters are wonderful, the wisecracking Harry Doyle incredibly funny and the finals... well... no spoilers here.
My most favorite moment is when oldtimer pitcher Harris is replaced by Charlie Sheens character in the finals. In the first games of the season, some die-hard fans had given Sheen the nickname "Wild thing" and sang the famous song. Now, the whole crowd is chanting this song as Sheen steps onto the field to pitch his largest enemy. This scene always gives me goosebumps. It is splendid.
Many great moments, excellent humor and a fate you would wish for your favorite sports team as well - unless you are one of those boring Yankees, Bulls or Bayern Muenchen fans...
Terry Pluto wrote a book on the history of the Indians failure called The Curse Of Colavito. In 1959 the Indians finished a respectable second to the White Sox in the pennant race that year with Casey Stengel's Yankees having an inexplicable bad season and a distant third. Rocky Colavito led the American League in home runs and he was the most popular fellow in Cleveland. He became one of a select group of Major Leaguers that year to hit four home-runs in one game. And he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for the batting champion, Harvey Kuenn. It was never the same for Cleveland.
Which takes us to the futile Indians of 1989 as futile in real life as they start on screen. The team comes into the possession of a new owner former showgirl Margaret Whitton. Her contract with the city specifies that if the team attendance dips below 700,000 for the season, she can move the team and she wants the warm sun of Miami instead of winters on the Cuyahoga River.
Building a winning team in baseball is a lot harder than what you see in Major League. But this collection of goofballs, misfits, and has beens actually get mad enough and start winning.
Major League has a nice collection of players playing ballplayers like veteran catcher Tom Berenger, narcissistic third baseman Corbin Bernsen, juvenile delinquent rookie pitcher Charlie Sheen known as Wild Thing for his lack of control, Wesley Snipes as center-fielder Willie Mays Hayes and Dennis Haysbert as a Santeria observing power hitter. It is the American League so Haysbert probably is the designated hitter. My favorite in the film is veteran manager James Gammon who pulls this collection together for a winning team.
Major League is a film for baseball and film fans it so nicely blends the interests. As for the Cleveland Indians when Municipal Stadium closed down and they got a new ballpark in Jacobs Field, they actually won a couple of pennants in 1995 and 1997. Of course the process to build the Indians wasn't half as entertaining as Major League is.
The fabulous scoreboard, the hysterical radio play-by-play of Bob Uecker, even the motley occupants of Cleveland sports bars are irresistible hooks to reel us in, after we've been hooked by the motley team of colorful has-beens and never-were's. If this is a formula, it's the right one. I deeply love this movie, and regret not having seen it in its theatrical run. (I've seen it a dozen times since.) I'm sure the audience went wild during that climactic Yankees game! How about that Dorn making a bunch of clutch plays! Didn't you love Cerrano carrying his bat around the bases with him? Jake not dusting off, and pointing, twice...man, I wish I'd been there.
Then there's the little insert, early in the story, about Jake's fantasy of hitting the winning run out of the park. What happened instead when the chips were really down?
Okay, it isn't "poetry" -- it's more of a limerick, know what I mean? Just start with three words: "There once was...." and finish it yourself! I bet you'll finish with a big smile on your face!
Is Major League predictable? I guess...but it is still a great movie. Its a ***** movie in my opinion, plus it was filmed at the late MCS (Milwaukee County Stadium) so that makes it even better!
Major League, however, personified the attitude of "Nothing to lose". Aside from the easily identified woes of the Cleveland franchise of the late-eighties, there were several actors in this film that had yet to hit big or had started to fall from grace. The incredibly strong language of the movie only made it seem that much more realistic.
Major League isn't a movie that's going to solve world peace or anything but if you want a light hearted, entertaining film that is hysterically funny then you need to see this.
Charlie Sheen being a former high school pitcher who was able to get 85 mph on his fastball, which isn't as fast as characters 100 mph. But close enough to with the way they film it to make it look believable as being a real flame thrower. If they had someone who didn't have a background in baseball they would've probably had to use a stunt double for his pitching scenes, which would've sucked.
The cast of this film is what makes it. They put together a great group to do a movie that is nothing special - losers and has-beens win the pennant.
I like Charlie Sheen and he is worth watching in anything he does, especially "Two and a Half Men." He was perfect in the character of the renegade.
I just saw Corbin Bernsen recently in The Dentist, and he can bring laughs to any movie.
Rene Russo? I love her and even though her part was small, it was great.
Wesley Snipes, Tom Berenger, and Dennis Haysbert all had a unique way of making this a great movie. And, hooray for Stacy Carroll in her only movie. How did they let her get away? I want to thank the Japanese Academy for recognizing this film with a nomination for best Foreign Film. They recognize greatness when they see it.
While this is not the funniest movie or the most cleverly plot (it is actually very formulaic), it works. This is the sort of film that cable TV can play almost every day and people will sit and watch it. They love Wild Thing, they love the young Wesley Snipes.
I sort of like the younger Corbin Bernsen. After his movie career, he had a resurgence thanks o his supporting role on "Psych". It is fun to go back and see him twenty years ago, before he got old enough to play a retired cop!
But, in addition to being a fan of the game, I am a Christian, too, and the bias against my faith in this movie was disgusting. Had they done this to any other group, I suspect you would have heard an uproar over it.....but Christians are fair game in the film world. Here, the dumbest and most annoying player on the team, of course, is the "religious" guy, "Eddie Harris," played cartoon-ishly by Chelcie Ross. He is pictured as a "nutcase" and a guy nobody likes. On the other hand we have the very likable voodoo-believing Latin American player. His superstitions are given great credence, naturally, with the voodoo actually being something that has real spiritual power. In the end, even Harris starts believing in them! Puh-leeze.
This film is one of the worst examples of Hollywood's prejudice you'll ever see. It's also sad comment that no one else here points this out.
Basically, Rachel Pheleps is the new owner of the Cleveland Indians after her husband dies, and she doesn't like Cleveland. In order to move the team to a warmer climate like Miami, she has to have a low audience for the games and she hires the worst team possible. But they prove themselves to be more, especially when the team finds out that Rachel wants the team to loose, they pull themselves together to win the games!
Major League had some good laughs and I would recommend it for anyone, even those baseball haters, just have a good time. Charlie Sheen really stole the show as Wild Thing! I loved how he had his sleeves cut off all the time, even for formal events. Major League is a fun comedy that I'm sure anyone could get at least one good laugh out of.
The heart of this film is the characters. We have the broken down veterans, the rookies, the love interest, the wise old coach, and the villain. These are rather cliched characters, but they are written and performed so well, you don't notice. Much of the humor arises out of character moments, which keeps it from becoming tired or dated.
Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen were hot, coming off of the success of Platoon. Corbin Bernsen was enjoying fame on LA Law. Rene Russo and Wesley Snipes were relative unknowns who got a chance to shine. And then there's Bob Uecker! Uecker is the glue that brings everything together and he gets the best lines in the movie.
You can't go wrong with a film like this. Everything works well and a good time is had by all. Too bad the sequels forgot what made this a success.
Some of the success of this movie must go to the director, who knows how to pace things so that we get involved in them, even though most of the characters aren't particularly likable.
So, in the end, you could do worse, and you won't be bored.
First, there is the Kevin Costner style of doing baseball (Field of Dreams, For The Love Of The Game, etc.) that romanticize (almost to a religious level) the game and relate it to real life on a very personal level.
Then, there are films like Little Big League, which don't take themselves seriously at all, yet that is the whole point...as neither do many big league ballplayers! These types of films, while short on plot and substance, are incredibly funny and speak to the type of humor that is needed to emotionally survive such a long "work week" (162-game season).
The film "Major League" is obviously a comedy, as its cast of characters is as goofy as goofy can get. There's the crazy psychopath (played by Charlie Sheen), the high-ego strutter (Wesley Snipes), the crazy voodoo guy (Dennis Haysbert), the serious, play-to-win guy (Tom Berenger), and even the gruff manager who's seen it all and his face never cracks (James Gammon). Plus, even the eccentric announcer ("Juuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside"-Bob Uecker) is thrown into the mix. When that nutty lot is thrown together on the field because the owner of the Cleveland Indians wants attendance to drop so bad that she can move the team out of town, hilarity ensues!
Yet, I actually think that what held this movie back a bit (dropping it from a four to three star rating) was the fact that, at times, it tried to take itself a bit too seriously. This is best personified in the film's focus on Tom Berenger's character, who is the only character that really has any kind of backstory whatsoever. True, his inspiration is needed to rally the troops towards the end of the season, but all the scenes involving his personal life/romance really just make you wish you could get back to the baseball diamond.
Thus, although Major League is considered to be one of the classic baseball films of all-time (and I will admit it has its share of iconic moments and characters), it suffers a bit from wandering too far from the formula that made it that way...comedy. If you don't mind a little clichéd sappiness with your humor, though, you won't have a problem. I recommend watching this film just for the sheer experience of it, but don't be expecting the come away with it ranking in your Top Ten.
Writer/director David S. Ward ("Down Periscope") has served up a charming and in-genius treat for anyone who still love the game of baseball despite what has happened to the game in recent years. The cast that Ward has assembled here (Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Rene Russo, etc.) is marvelous. In addition, two notable former big leaguers (Pete Vukovich and Bob Uecker) also appear in the movie.
There are plenty of nice touches applied here, such as having the old County Stadium (home of the Brewers) and some of Uecker's punch-lines make the film downright irriestiable.
But I also couldn't believe for a moment that the Indians were a real baseball team. I mean, what baseball team would allow themselves to be made fun of this way?
Imagine my surprise the next morning when I discovered that the Indians were, in fact, a real ball club, and they really were as bad as they were portrayed as being in the film! I immediately bought a Chief Wahoo hat and declared myself an Indians fan.
Watching this film today is like a nostalgia session. Cleveland's Municipal Stadium (the "mistake by the lake", built as part of Cleveland's bid for the Olympic games) has long since been torn down, as was the Brewers' stadium in Milwaukee used for the scenes "inside" the ballpark. The Indians, though faltering in the 2002 season, are still a far better team than they were in 1989. (An odd side note - the San Francisco Giants' last trip to the World Series was in 1954 - when they played the Indians! That was the last time the Tribe won the AL pennant until 1997, when they lost the World Series to the Marlins.) Cleveland has actually been cleaned up pretty substantially since the film was released, and a few buildings have been added to the skyline. The Browns even have their own stadium nowadays!
There are certainly movies that have better baseball ("Bull Durham" comes to mind), but not many that have as much fun with the sport.