Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Movie #384: Major League

Major League is a sports comedy about baseball, which is the only good way to watch baseball. It starts Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bensen, Rene Russo, Dennis Haysbert, James Gammon, and Margaret Whitton.

The movie opens with a montage of 1980s Cleveland, highlighting that the Cleveland Indians suck. The owner of he team has died and left it to his widow, former Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps (Whitton), who really, really wants to get the fuck out of Cleveland and move to Miami, which has offered to buy the franchise. In order to do that, attendance has to fallen to a certain point, so she assembles a team of has-beens and never-weres to come in dead last.

Said ragtag team of baseball players includes Jake Taylor (Berenger), who was good until his knees went, Cerrano (Haysbert), who immigrated from Cuba to practice voodoo, and Vaughn (Sheen), a car thief and crazy-inaccurate pitcher. Their coach is Lou (Gammon), whom I only note because he's consistently funny in the movie and because his character is mentioned to have managed the Toledo Mud Hens, which is a nice touch.

Over the course of the movie, the team improves and eventually winds up winning the Big Game at the end (which I always thought was the World Series, but is in fact some kind of league thing; I don't really grok sports). Most of the comedy comes from the team being largely inept, dealing with each others' foibles, and so forth. And that's all well and good; Haysbert's Spanish is pretty piss-poor (like, it's technically correct but it doesn't sound at all Cuban, but I might be nit-picking), Snipes is funny as the cocksure and yet still unsteady Hayes, and Berenger nicely grounds the whole thing.

Except into this whole thing we have to inject a love story between Taylor and his ex, Lynn (Russo). Lynn has moved on and gotten engaged, and Taylor, upon seeing her randomly in a restaurant, immediately rushes over to bully her into giving him her number, then follows her to her fiancee's house, and then continues to stalk her. It's pretty gross, and it's presented (as such things often are) as playful and romantic. It's perhaps worse because in such situations, the "other man" (in this case Richard Pickren) has some kind of character flaw, he's a jerk, he's abusive, whatever. Here, her fiancee seems a decent guy, he's obviously successful and mature, and sure, he busts Jake's chops a little, but remember, he's Lynn's immature ex who is now stalking her. Fuckin' 80s comedy, man.

Anyway, cut or improve that love story and the whole movie would be better for it.

My grade: B
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Mallrats