Major League (1989) is a simple, formulaic movie centering on an aweful baseball team (the Cleveland Indians) and their meteoric rise to elite status as they attempt to make the playoffs. While it won’t take a Ph.D. in film study to figure out what happens, this movie is in every guy’s top 50, most guys’ top 25, and this guy’s top 10. The baseball scenes are terrific, the acting is great for a sports movie, and the cast is funny throughout.
Speaking of the cast, Tom Berenger plays the washed up catcher (that’s the guy who wears all the gear and sits behind the plate), a young Wesley Snipes (circa when he paid his taxes) plays centerfielder “Wille Mays Hayes” and Charlie Sheen plays the flame-throwing pitcher (Sheen actually was offered a scholarship to play for the Kansas Jayhawks). Playing Berenger’s love interest is the always sultry Rene Russo.
Major League is by no means a chick-flick with a great love story, but the scenes with Berenger trying win back Russo are well-acted and have more passion than anything Titanic or The Notebook have to offer (just kidding, got your attention though and the chick-flick scenes are decent actually).
The humor stems from the idea that the team is a rag-tag group of misfits, has-beens, never wases, and rejects. Among those characters are voodoo believing Pedro Cerrano (the black president from 24 and the guy from the Allstate commercials), a Bible-thumping over-the-hill pitcher, a prima-donna third baseman who refuses to play hard, a grizzled old manager, and the cold as ice owner hell-bent on moving the team to Miami. Bob Uecker plays the foul-mouthed play-by-play radio commentator and steals every scene he is in.
As the losses begin to pile up, the team digs deep and starts to win. The New York Yankees thoroughly embarassed the Indians early in the season, and it is poetic justice that the Yankees would be standing in their way during the final showdown. No spoilers here, you just have to go out and enjoy Major League. You will learn some baseball, laugh like crazy, enjoy a little romance, and learn why a pitcher would cover his hand in Vaseline and put chili peppers up his nose.