Rob: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: And I’m Adam Riske.
Major League was never one of my favorite baseball movies, but it was a reliable enough cable TV presence that I’ve come to know it quite well. In short: It’s Fine. There are all kinds of little nitpicks for us to nitpick, and I’m sure we’ll get to that, but it’s about middle of the pack as far as baseball movies go. It’s not really story-driven, nor is there much in the way of character arcs or complex dramatics. Nothing really bothered me. A few bits made me laugh. It’s a decent series of gags, some of which have become iconic. That’s more or less where I’m at. What are your thoughts on Major League?
Rob: When you say “dumb,” do you mean the actual logistics of the games they play?
Rob: No, I think it’s hard for people who love baseball as much as we do to stomach a baseball movie that puts the minutiae of the game itself on the backburner. There are tons and tons of little things that don’t track. The stuff you mentioned didn’t bother me that much in this case because I just wasn’t invested in these guys enough to have a strong stake in how the final game shook out, but I understand why they’re getting stuck in your craw. I’m also aware of how silly I sound when I say that a movie with such colorful characters (including Bob Uecker, who I agree is a goddamn treasure) is light on characterization, but the drama in a team sports movie tends to live or die by their interplay and growth, and save for a few bits in that last game, there’s not a whole lot here. And I’m not judging a light comedy too harshly, either. A League of Their Own has it. Even Rookie of the Year has it. That’s what I mean when I say the movie feels mostly like a series of gags set next to each other. I know this sounds completely ridiculous to a lot of people who love Major League. I’ll go ahead and hop on your apology train.
Yeah, I’m definitely being a grouch about this. Major League is totally fine. It’s charming and there’s some good (if nonsensical) baseball action. Speaking of which, I like way baseballs sound coming off the bat in ‘80s movies. It’s like an Indiana Jones punch. They don’t sound like that in every movie. Anyway, I just don’t think all the pieces of Major League come together in as satisfying a way as other baseball movies we’ve covered. That doesn’t make it bad.
Adam: It was one of those awful revisits I know everyone has had where you realize you should have just let a movie live in your brain as good and you caused yourself irreparable damage by watching it again. I found myself rallying around Tom Berenger and Rene Russo on this watch because the baseball stuff was bothering me. Berenger and Russo have great chemistry together and Berenger, in particular, is way more charming than usual on screen. It feels like one of those performances where the actor is born to play that part. The two of them are such an appealing couple that for some reason I can ignore that Jake Taylor is an asshole (he cheated on Russo’s character, causing their pre-film breakup; he just breaks into people’s houses like that’s okay to do) and he’s trying to steal her away from her current fiancee who we (as viewers) are primed, by the genre and the writer-director, to think is a total douchebag when his biggest crime is he’s a wealthy lawyer and doesn’t like that an asshole ex-boyfriend is honing in on his fiancee. What can I say? Berenger reminds me of Carlton Fisk and that goes a long way.
Rob: That was the one note I made! I loved that line. The movie needed more of that. I agree that while Berenger and Russo have good chemistry, our sympathies in the love triangle feel sort of forced. Jake admits he cheated (for a completely ridiculous reason), he’s about to age out of baseball, and he has zero plans for the future. What a catch! You have to earn the snobs-versus-slobs thing, and do we ever really get that? I mean, once they all make the final cut, no one on the team is all that concerned with their performance until Gammon tells them that they’re all out of a job next year. It’s not an ethos thing; it’s not like they have that soul, that special sauce that elevates them above the other teams. They just get it together after a little practice and start kicking the Yankees’ ass. There’s nothing creative or interesting about that. It makes me like them even less. You know what? Let’s just lean into the nitpicking. What else have you got?
Adam: I’ll preface the rest of my part of the review by saying that if you think I might ruin Major League for you, then you’re probably right and should stop reading. I don’t want to ruin a movie for anyone and I know some people struggle with others nitpicking a movie they like; so...yeah. How about crowd size? You don’t have to be a genius to know that even the shittiest teams at least almost sell out on opening day, but in this movie no one is in the ballpark. Conversely, their game to win the division has an attendance so high that (I checked) it would be the seventh highest attendance in MLB history with the six games ahead of it being World Series games in the 1940s and 1950s.
Rob: Where is Cleveland’s farm system? They lost “two of [their] best players,” sure, but what happened to the rest of the big league squad? What were those roster moves like? Arbitration? Was there a Rule 5 draft? Like, Willie Mays Hayes literally shows up in his car and decides he’s on the team. He can run, sure, but we all just let that slide? Where the hell is the Player’s Association?
Adam: Speaking of Hayes, how does he have like 15 steals, but then in the final 40 games has about 50 more? This isn’t hyperbole. He nails his batting gloves on a wall as proof.
Rob: Same. I think everyone reading this can agree that Major League is a good movie, and none of our weird little nitpicks should erase that. In fact, if I can piggyback off something you said earlier, I think we should all just remember Major League being a good movie and let it live in our memories that way. Mark Ahn.
Next week, we’ll finish up our summer Jaws series with Jaws: The Revenge. Something tells me you’re not going to want to miss that. Until next time…
Adam: These seats are reserved.