Major League: WILD THING EDITION (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 13, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“Considered to be one of the most honest representation of a baseball film ever made, the 1989 film ‘Major League’ is an enjoyable, fun and exciting film that looks absolutely great on Blu-ray nearly 20-years-later.”
TITLE: Major League: WILD THING EDITION
DURATION: 106 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
COMPANY: Paramount Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2009
Directed and written by David S. Ward
Executive Produced by Mark Rosenburg
Produced by Chris Chesser and Irby Smith
Co-Produced by Julie Bergman Sender and Joe Roth
Music by James Newton Howard
Director of Photography: Reynaldo Villalobos
Edited by Dennis M. Hill
Casting by Joanne Zaluski
Production Design by Jeffrey Howard
Art Direction by John Krenz Reihart Jr.
Set Decoration by Celeste Lee
Costume Deisgn by Erica Edell Phillips
Tom Berenger as Jake Taylor
Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn
Corbin Bernsen as Roger Dorn
Margaret Whitton as Rachel Phelps
James Gammon as Lou Brown
Rene Russo as Lynn Wells
Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes
Charles Cyphers as Charlie Donovan
Chelcie Ross as Eddie Harris
Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano
Stacy Carroll as Suzanne Dorn
Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle
Andy Romano as Pepper Leach
Steve Yeager as Duke Temple
Peter Vuckovich as Haywood
Considered by many sports fans as “the greatest baseball” film that captures the excitement of America’s past time, the 1989 sports comedy film “Major League” brought in over $50 million during its theatrical run.
The film which was written and directed by David S. Ward (writer for “The Sting” and “Sleepless in Seattle”) was known for jumpstarting the careers of Wesley Snipes (“Blade”, “U.S. Marshalls”, etc.), Dennis Haybert (“24”, “The Unit”, etc.) and Rene Russo (“Lethal Weapn 3 and 4”, “Get Shorty”, etc.) but also trying to capture the realism of underdogs sports teams and even Charlie Sheen (who was a former high school baseball pitcher), an actor throwing actual pitches. And possibly breathing new life into the Cleveland Indians baseball team (which did very well during 1990’s) and giving significance to the number #99 and also athletes utilizing the song “Wild Thing” as their theme song.
“Major League” revolves around the Cleveland Indians and how they have had over 30 years of losing seasons. Former Las Vegas showgirl, Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) has inherited the Cleveland Indians and now she wants to move the team to Florida. The only way she will be able to accomplish that is if the attendance of Municipal Stadium stays below 800,000 ticket sales and the team is in last place. This will void the team’s lease with the city of Cleveland and thus she instructs GM Charlie Donovan (Charles Cyphers) to hire the following people she has on her list.
So, joining the team are:
Lou Brown (James Gammon) – A tire salesman who managed the Toledo Mud Hens at one time and is now given the opportunity to become head coach of the Cleveland Indians.
Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) – The main character of the film. The catcher who is an older veteran and has to have constant ice to relieve his joints. Knowing he doesn’t have much time left as a pro baseball player, he just wants to be part of a team that can make it to the playoffs. Also, things start to change as Jake sees a former girlfriend Lynn Wells (Rene Russo) that he loved back in his past but because of his wild ways, lost her. But now after seeing her after all these years, wants her back.
Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) – Incarcerated and very street-like but is known for his throwing arm. Happens to have bad eyesight as well. Later in the film, he becomes known as “Wild Thing”.
Willie “Mays” Hayes (Wesley Snipes) – Athletic, has great speed but can’t hit that well.
Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) – Really talented power hitter who practices voodoo to help him hit a curveballs (his weakness).
Eddie Harris (Chelcie Ross) – Has a strong throwing arm but is forced to doctor his pitches and objects to Cerrano’s voodoo practicing.
Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) – The team’s egotistical Cleveland Indians player who is under contract. Also, likes to tick the other players off.
We see the team work through training camp and eventually starting off the season terribly. We watch Cleveland Indians radio announcer Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) try to be supportive of the team, even though they play badly.
But through hardwork and adjustments, Coach Lou Brown manages to get his team to win more games which starts to frustrate owner Lynn Wells. So, she tries to make life much more difficult for the team by putting them on a budget such as no flying on a modern airplane and having to be transported in an older DC3, no tub to rejuvenate the players, so they have to rely on old, worn out equipment.
But as GM Charlie Donovan informs Coach Brown of Well’s intention to have the team come in last place, Brown tells the team of the circumstance and Jake Taylor and the team rise up to prove her wrong and set the goal to winning all of their remaining 35 games.
“Major League” is the ultimate sports film featuring a group of underdogs not expected do accomplish anything but in the process, becoming a team that has a chance of making it to the playoffs.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“MAJOR LEAGUE” is featured in 1080p High Definition. And is actually a very clean and vibrant transfer thanks to the fact that the film was remastered several years ago.
For a film that is 20-years-old, you realize how beautiful the actual picture quality is as colors pop, blacks are well done and although evident, minimal specks of dirt. Of course, as many films created back in the late 80’s and mid 90’s tend to have a softness to it, “Major League” also has that soft feel. But the amount of sharpness and color vibrancy makes this release much, much better than the 2007 “Wild Thing Edition” DVD release.
As for audio quality, audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (also French and Spanish Mono). The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film and only until you get to the last half hour of the film, where the stadium is finally packed with people and Vaughn getting his “Wild Thing” introduction, do you finally see the sound being kicked up a notch.
Audio is front channel heavy, with some subwoofer usage during X’s “Wild Thing” theme (even more pronounced on the menu selection). Rear surrounds featured a little stadium ambiance but nothing significant in terms of audio direction but overall, you hear things quite clearly.
Subtitles are featured in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
The “Major League: WILD THING EDITION” Blu-ray Disc release comes with everything that was included on the 2007 DVD and all are in Standard Definition. Included are:
- Commentary: Commentary by Writer/Director David S. Ward and producer Chris Chesser – The commentary for “Major League” was quite interesting. Especially how David S. Ward wanted to reshoot scenes, for example, Wesley Snipes final scene and by the time he was done, he was black and blue from sliding a lot. Also, Ward and Chesser discussing the crowd scenes especially in the championship game, shooting long hours to the early morning (which Russo cried because she was forgetting her lines because it was so late) and how CG wasn’t used at all, especially during Charlie Sheen’s pitching and more. Discussion of how the ending had to be reshot because it didn’t test as well in front of the audience. So ,they had to travel to London to have Margaret Whitton reshoot her scenes as Rachel Phelps. Also, how both men were almost speechless because they were enjoying the film. Overall, an informative and fun commentary.
- My Kinda Team Making Major League – (23:10) Interviews with the Director, Producer and cast of “Major League”. How the film continues to stay strong and how David S. Ward is a true baseball fan and how he modeled certain characters from a combination of a few baseball players and working with LA Dodgers Steve Yeager who put the cast through a 2 week baseball boot camp and more.
- A Major League Look at Major League – (14:27) Interview with several Cleveland Indians baseball players and staff who discuss similarities or differences from the characters of “Major League” and people who actually play in the big leagues. Especially how one minor leaguer watches the film each day he is supposed to start pitching.
- Bob Uecker: Just A Bit Outside – (12:43) A look at Bob Uecker the baseball player, the baseball announcer and being on the film. Featuring cast of “Major League”, Cleveland Indians players and staff and interviews with Bob Uecker.
- Alternate Ending with Filmmaker Introduction – (4:18) In the original screenplay and for the film, it was supposed to be revealed that the owner Rachel Phelps planned it all along and that she had to use the baseball players that they had because the team had no money. But because it was tested badly among fans who despised her character, they had to reshoot the whole scene with her character.
- A Tour of Cerrano’s Locker – (1:35) A short segment with the character of Pedro Cerrano showcasing his vodoo shrine in his locker.
- Photo Gallery – Still photos from the film.
“Major League” still manages to have the enthusiasm as it did back in 1989 with sports fans in 2009. Many baseball players and even athletes talk about the film and how it ranks as one of their top sports films of all time and whenever its on television, they have to watch it.
It’s an enjoyable film but it all comes down to what your preference is for a baseball film. Are you looking for inspirational and serious films such as “Field of Dreams” or do you want a sports comedy film such as “Major League”. It’s also an honest film that even professional baseball players and staff have said it has its relevance because many elements from the film actually happen in real life. From veterans assisting rookies, players having their daily rituals before a game, relievers in their own element and the feeling of sadness and excitement for a fan of one’s baseball team.
Obviously, not all audiences enjoy sports films but for those who do, “Major League” definitely is quite fun and entertaining with its team of interesting to unusual characters but most of all, watching a group of people rising to the occasion as a team and most of all kicking some ass!
“Major League: WILD THING EDITION” is worth checking out!
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